Robert Weinberg

Robert Allan Weinberg (born November 11, 1942) is a biologist, Daniel K. Ludwig Professor for Cancer Research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), director of the Ludwig Center of the MIT, and American Cancer Society Research Professor. His research is in the area of oncogenes and the genetic basis of human cancer.[2][3][4]

Robert Weinberg
Robert Allan Weinberg

(1942-11-11) November 11, 1942
Alma materMIT (Ph.D)
Known for
Scientific career
FieldsMolecular Biology, Oncology, and Genetics
Doctoral students

Robert Weinberg is also affiliated with the Broad Institute and is a founding member of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. He teaches at MIT including course 7.012 (introductory biology) with Eric Lander. Weinberg and Lander are among the co-founders of Verastem, which is a biopharmaceutical company focused on discovering and developing drugs to treat cancer by targeting cancer stem cells.[5]


He is best known for his discoveries of the first human oncogene Ras and the first tumor suppressor gene Rb[6]p. 371-381, which is partially documented in Natalie Angier′s book, Natural Obsessions, about her year spent in Weinberg's lab.

In the late 20th century, advances in genetics led to the discovery of over one hundred cancer cell types. Cancer cells were noted for their bewildering diversity. It was hard to identify the principles that cancers had in common.

He and Douglas Hanahan wrote the seminal paper, "The Hallmarks of Cancer", published in January 2000,[7] that gave the six requirements for one renegade cell to cause a deadly cancer:[6] In 2011, they published an updated review article entitled "Hallmarks of cancer: the next generation".[8]

Capability Simple analogy
Self-sufficiency in growth signals "accelerator pedal stuck on"
Insensitivity to anti-growth signals "brakes don't work"
Evading apoptosis won't die when the body normally would kill the defective cell
Limitless replicative potential infinite generations of descendants
Sustained angiogenesis asking the body to give it a blood supply
Tissue invasion and metastasis migrating and spreading to other organs and tissues

Weinberg is well known for both his cancer research[9] and for his mentorship of many eminent scientists, including Tyler Jacks, Clifford Tabin and Cornelia Bargmann. He is currently studying cancer cell metastasis.[10]

He is also the author of the textbook The Biology of Cancer[1] published by Garland Science, as well as two important accounts intended for a wider audience: One Renegade Cell: How Cancer Begins (1999) (Science Masters Series); and Racing to the Beginning of the Road: The Search for the Origin of Cancer (1996).

Awards and honors

Weinberg won the National Medal of Science and the Keio Medical Science Prize in 1997. In 1999, he received the Albert Einstein World Award of Science in recognition of his valuable and pioneering contributions in the field of Biomedical Sciences and for his productive trajectory related to the genetic and molecular basis of neoplastic disease.[11] He obtained the Wolf Prize in Medicine in 2004 (shared with Roger Y. Tsien), and he is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. As a member, Weinberg has gone on record to critique efforts to eject members for sexual harassment, suggesting, "it might be useful to ask whether sexual harassment by a member has anything whatsoever to do with their credibility as a scientist and the soundness of their research accomplishments—the criteria that were used to elect them in the first place."[12] In 2007 he received an honorary doctorate degree in commemoration of Linnaeus from Uppsala University. He is a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences since 1992.[13] In 2009 he was presented the Hope Funds Award in Basic Research. In 2013 he was awarded the $3 million Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences for his work.[14]


To this day Weinberg has retracted five research papers where he is listed as a co-author. The retractions include one paper in Cell, one in Cancer Cell, two in Genes & Development and one in Cancer Research.[15][16][17] The reasons given for these retractions remain obscure but appear to involve misconduct in the form of data manipulation that renders the published data invalid or false. For example, in the retracted Cell paper of 2009, the authors inform the readership that “original data were compiled from different replicate experiments in order to assemble the presented figure. The scope of the figure preparation issues includes compiling data from independent experiments to present them as one internally controlled experiment, statistical analyses based on technical replicates that are not reflective of the biological replicates, and comparisons of selectively chosen data points from multiple experiments.” [18]

See also


  1. Weinberg, Robert (2007). The Biology of Cancer. Garland Science (published 2006). ISBN 9780815340768. OCLC 63114199.
  2. Shih, C.; Weinberg, R. A. (1982). "Isolation of a transforming sequence from a human bladder carcinoma cell line". Cell. 29 (1): 161–9. doi:10.1016/0092-8674(82)90100-3. PMID 6286138.
  3. Weinberg, R. A.; Hahn, W. C.; Counter, C. M.; Lundberg, A. S.; Beijersbergen, R. L.; Brooks, M. W. (1999). "Creation of human tumour cells with defined genetic elements". Nature. 400 (6743): 464–8. Bibcode:1999Natur.400..464H. doi:10.1038/22780. PMID 10440377.
  4. Mani, S. A.; Guo, W.; Liao, M. J.; Eaton, E. N.; Ayyanan, A.; Zhou, A. Y.; Brooks, M.; Reinhard, F.; Zhang, C. C.; Shipitsin, M.; Campbell, L. L.; Polyak, K.; Brisken, C.; Yang, J.; Weinberg, R. A. (2008). "The Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition Generates Cells with Properties of Stem Cells". Cell. 133 (4): 704–15. doi:10.1016/j.cell.2008.03.027. PMC 2728032. PMID 18485877.
  6. Siddhartha Mukherjee (2010). The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-1-4391-0795-9. OCLC 464593321.
  7. Hanahan, Douglas; Weinberg, RA (January 7, 2000). "The Hallmarks of Cancer". Cell. 100 (1): 57–70. doi:10.1016/S0092-8674(00)81683-9. ISSN 0092-8674. PMID 10647931.
  8. Hanahan, D.; Weinberg, R. A. (2011). "Hallmarks of Cancer: The Next Generation". Cell. 144 (5): 646–674. doi:10.1016/j.cell.2011.02.013. PMID 21376230.
  9. Tabin, C. J.; Bradley, S. M.; Bargmann, C. I.; Weinberg, R. A.; Papageorge, A. G.; Scolnick, E. M.; Dhar, R.; Lowy, D. R.; Chang, E. H. (1982). "Mechanism of activation of a human oncogene". Nature. 300 (5888): 143–9. Bibcode:1982Natur.300..143T. doi:10.1038/300143a0. PMID 6290897.
  10. Christine L. Chaffer; Robert A. Weinberg (March 25, 2011). "A perspective on Cancer Cell Metastasis". Science. 331 (6024): 1559–1564. Bibcode:2011Sci...331.1559C. doi:10.1126/science.1203543. PMID 21436443.
  11. "Albert Einstein World Award of Science 1999". Archived from the original on March 4, 2014. Retrieved August 13, 2013.
  12. "National Academy of Sciences will vote on ejecting sexual harassers". Retrieved April 2, 2019.
  13. "The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences: Robert Weinberg". Archived from the original on April 3, 2019. Retrieved September 27, 2009.
  14. "LAUREATES 2013". Breakthrough Prize in Lifesciences. Archived from the original on December 19, 2013. Retrieved December 19, 2013.
  15. "Papers from MIT Cancer Biologist's Laboratory Retracted". Archived from the original on July 29, 2015.
  16. "Three Retractions for Highly Cited Author". Archived from the original on May 23, 2015.
  17. "Cancer Research retraction is fifth for Robert Weinberg, fourth for his former student". Archived from the original on September 10, 2015.
  18. "Retraction of Cell paper by Robert Weinberg". Archived from the original on April 24, 2015.
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