Alan Wells, MD, DMSc

Thomas J. Gill III Professor of Pathology, Executive Vice Chairman, Section of Laboratory Medicine

Alan Wells, MD, DMSc, is the Executive Vice-Chairman of the Section of Laboratory Medicine (encompassing Clinical Chemistry, Clinical Microbiology, Hematopathology, Immunopathology, Transfusion Medicine, and Clinical Pathology throughout the UPMC Health System). He also serves as the Medical Director for the UPMC Clinical Laboratories. As the Thomas Gill III Professor of Pathology, Wells directs a large research endeavor investigation how cells interact with and respond to their microenvironment during cancer dissemination and wound healing, with an eye towards biologically engineered and stem cell therapeutics in these arenas.

Clinical Expertise

Alan Wells, MD DMSc, is medical director of the largest integrated academically-based clinical laboratory enterprise in the US. His clinical expertise resides in clinical laboratory medical management and how that impacts quality care.

Society Executive Positions

  • 1997-00 - Academy of Clinical Laboratory Physicians and Scientists, Member, Board of Directors
  • 2000-03 - Academy of Clinical Laboratory Physicians and Scientists, President (Elect/Standing/Past)
  • 2005-08 - Wound Healing Society, Chair Publication Committee, Executive Committee
  • 2008-13 - Wound Healing Society, Member, Board of Directors
  • 2008-10 - American Association of University Pathologists (AAUP/Pluto Club), President (Elect/Standing)
  • 2013-15 - Wound Healing Society, Chair Publication Committee, Board of Directors
  • 2017-21 - Wound Healing Society, Vice-President, President-Elect, President
1978 - Phi Beta Kappa
1979 - Sigma Xi
1979 - Brown University, AB magna cum laude
1979-81- ITT International Fellowship, Institute for International Education, New York
1980 - New York Academy of Sciences
1982 - Karolinska Institute, DMSc with Honors
1989 - Young Investigator Award, Academy of Clinical Laboratory Physicians and Scientists
1990 - David J Epstein Award, UCSD
1990 - Young Investigator Award - Honors, ACLPS
1992-93 - Junior Faculty Development Award, UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center
1993-94 - Awardee, Intramural Development Grant, UAB Center for Aging
1995 - Molecular and Cellular Pathology (UAB) Faculty Teaching Award
1998 - Guest Editor, Special Issue on Cell Motility, Microscopy Research and Technique
1999 - Welcome Research Travel Grant, Burroughs Welcome Fund
1999 - Thomas J Gill III Professorship (Endowed Chair) University of Pittsburgh
2000 - Guest Editor, Issue on Tumor Invasion, Seminars in Cancer Biology
2001 - American Society for Clinical Investigation
2002 - American Association of University Pathologists (Pluto Club)
2008 - Keynote Speaker, European Tissue Repair Society Annual Meeting, Malta
2008 - Pitt Innovator Awardee
2010 - 11- Chair, NIH Study Section – Surgery, Anesthesiology and Trauma (SAT)
2011 - William E Brown Outstanding MSTP Mentor Award, UPitt
2011 - Distinguished Mentor, Biomedical Graduate Students Association, UPitt
2011 - Keynote Speaker, Japan Society for Laboratory Medicine Annual Meeting
2012 - Keynote Speaker, WVU Breast Cancer Center, Annual Retreat, West Virginia Univ
2012 - Gregory Derringer Pathology Grand Round, IUPUI
2012 - Chair, VA Study Section - Oncology
2013 - Provost's Award for Excellence in Mentoring, UPitt
2013 - Pitt Innovator Awardee
Research Interests

The Wells Laboratory research program, in close collaboration with its research partners, aims to understand cell migration in terms of how motility processes are regulated, and understand how this regulation of migration plays a role in physiologic and pathologic situations. We are integrating the knowledge gained from our biochemical and biophysical mechanistic studies into our investigations concerning conditions of dysregulated (tumor invasion) and orchestrated (wound healing and organogenesis) cell motility. As part of understanding the motility response, we are investigating both how this particular integrated cell response is selected from among others and the metabolic consequences of motility. This integrative approach provides reinforcing insights and novel avenues for exploration into the basic signaling pathways as well as functioning of whole organism. As a model system, we explore motility signaling from the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) in adherent cells. EGFR plays a central role in the functioning in a wide variety of both stromal and epithelial tissues, and is the prototype for other receptors with intrinsic tyrosine kinase activity. Thus, these studies should have widespread implications.

The two central foci are tumor progression and wound repair. In tumor progression, we examine breast and prostate carcinoma invasion and metastases in terms of molecular signals and the special micro-environments. For this, the laboratory uses human tissues, animal models, and a unique 4-dimensional liver microtissue. In would repair, the current model system is skin wound healing, in which the communications between the epidermis, dermis, and blood vessels is parsed at the molecular levels. The role of stem cells in the natural repair process and as a rationale therapeutic is also being investigated. These two areas are re-inforcing as many of the key molecules and cellular processes are part of the generalizable onco-fetal-wound program.

NIH Research

View Dr. Wells' NIH RePORT on

Representative Publications

View Dr. Wells' publications on PubMed.

  • H Shao, A Wang, D Lauffenburger, A Wells (2018). Tyro3-mediated phosphorylation of ACTN4 is FAK-dependent and decreases susceptibility to cleavage by M-calpain. International Journal of Biochemistry and Cell Biology 95, 73-84. PMID:29274473
  • A Khazali, AM Clark, A Wells (2018). Inflammatory cytokine IL-8/CXCL8 promotes tumor escape from hepatocyte-induced dormancy. British Journal of Cancer 118, 566-576.
  • VK Raghu, CH Beckwitt, K Warita, A Wells, P Benos, ZN Oltvai (2018). Biomarker identification for statin sensitivity of cancer cell lines. Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications 495, 659-665.
  • AM Clark, MP Kumar, SE Wheeler, CL Young, R Venkataramanan, DB Stolz, LG Griffith, DA Lauffenburger, A Wells (2018). A model of dormant-emergent metastatic breast cancer progression enabling exploration of biomarker signatures. Molecular and Cellular Proteomics 17, 619-630.
  • R Neapolitan, Z Zeng, X Jiang, X Luo, A Wells, Y Luo (2018). Conjugated equine estrogen and medroxyprogesterone acetate are associated with decreased risk of breast cancer relative to bioidentical hormone therapy and controls. PLoS One 13, e0197624.
  • T Ishikawa, YZ Hosaka, C Beckwitt, A Wells, ZN Oltvai, K Warita (2018). Concomitant attenuation of HMG-CoA reductase expression potentiates the cancer cell growth-inhibitory effect of statins and expands their efficacy in tumor cells with epithelial characteristics. Oncotarget 9, 29304-29315.
  • C Beckwitt, K Shiraha, A Wells (2018). Lipophilic statins limit cancer cell growth and survival, via involvement of Akt signaling. PLoS One 13, e0197422. PMID:29763460
  • C Beckwitt, AM Clark, B Ma, DL Whaley, ZN Oltvai, A Wells (2018). Statins attenuate outgrowth of breast cancer metastases. British Journal of Cancer 119, 1094-1105. PMID: 30401978
  • MN Stram, CN Suciu, JN Seheult, M A McCullough, M Kader, A Wells, AW Pasculle, CR Rinaldo (2018). Herpes simplex virus-1 qPCR in the diagnosis of lower respiratory tract infections in organ transplant recipients and critically ill patients. American Journal of Clinical Pathology 150, 522-532.
  • X Jiang, A Wells, A Brufsky, R Neapolitan (2019). A clinical decision support system learned from data to personalize treatment recommendations towards preventing breast cancer metastasis. PLoS One 14, e0213292.
  • H Shao, B Wingert, A Weins, MR Pollak, C Camacho, A Wells (2019). Focal segmental glomerulosclerosis ACTN4 mutants binding to actin: regulation by phosphomimetic mutations. Scientific Reports 9, e15517.
  • B Ma, A Khazali, H Shao, Y Jiang, A Wells (2019). Expression of E-cadherin and specific CXCR3 isoforms impact each other in prostate cancer. Cell Communication and Signaling 17, e164.
  • J Swogger, IP Conner, M Rosano, M Kemmerer, C Happ, A Wells, JS Schuman, CC Yates (2020). Injected versus sponge-applied mitomycin-C (MMC) during modified trabeculectomy in New Zealand white rabbit model. Translational Vision Science & Technology 9, e23.
  • X Jiang, A Wells, A Brufsky, D Shetty, K Shajihan, RE Neapolitan (2020). Leveraging Bayesian networks and information theory to learn risk factors for breast cancer metastasis. BMC Bioinformatics 12, e298.
  • J Swogger, IP Conner, C Happ-Smith, MC Kemmerer, DR Julian, A Wells, JS Schuman, CC Yates (2021). Novel combination therapy reduces subconjunctival fibrosis after glaucoma filtration surgery in the rabbit model. Clinical & Experimental Ophthalmology 49, 60-69.
  • JLG Marti, A Wells, A Brufsky (2021). Dysregulation of the mevalonate pathway during Sars-CoV-2 infection: an in silico study. Journal of Medical Virology 93, 2396-2405.
  • H Shao, A Wells (2021). Binding of ACTN-4 to EGF receptor enables it rapid phosphorylation. Heliyon 7, e06011.
  • B Ma, H Shao, X Jiang, Z Wang, C Wu, D Whaley, A Wells (2021). AKT isoforms differentially provide for chemoresistance in prostate cancer. Cancer Biology and Medicine 18, doi: 10.20892/j.issn.2095-3941.2020.0747.
  • A Clark, HL Heusey, LG Griffith, DA Lauffenburger, A Wells (2021). IP-10 (CXCL10) can trigger emergence of dormant breast cancer cells in a metastatic liver microenvironment. Frontiers in Oncology 11, e676135.
  • JL Gomez Marti, CH Beckwitt, AM Clark, A Wells (2021). Atorvastatin facilitates chemotherapy effects in metastatic triple negative breast cancer. British Journal of Cancer 125, 1285-1298.
  • D Korentzelos, A Wells, AM Clark (2021). Interferon-g increases sensitivity to chemotherapy and provides immunotherapy targets in models of metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer. bioRxiv, doi:; Scientific Reports, in press.
  • JL Gomez Marti, A Brufsky, A Wells, X Jiang (2021). Machine-learning to discern interactive clusters of risk factors for late recurrence of metastatic breast cancer. Preprints, doi:10.20944/preprints202112.0018.v1 ; Cancers, in press.
  • K Sylakowski, MP Hwang, A Justin, D Whaley, Y Wang, A Wells (2022). The matricellular protein decorin delivered intradermally with coacervate improves wound resolution in a mouse model of hypertrophic scarring. Wound Repair and Regeneration, in press.
  • H Shao, DL Whaley, A Wells (2022). Axl contributes to efficient migration and invasion of melanoma cells. bioRxiv BIORXIV/2022/490307
  • And >25 papers related to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic