Alan Wells, MD, DMSc
Thomas J. Gill III Professor of Pathology

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.

Office Location:
UPMC Clinical Laboratories
UPMC Clinical Lab Building-Rm. 9022
3477 Euler Way
Pittsburgh, PA 15213 USA
Contact Information:
Office Telephone: 412-647-7813
Fax: 412-647-8567

Clinical Experties

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.

Research Interests

Within his laboratory, Dr. Wells and his research team are aiming to gain a better understanding of how cells respond to their local environment. Due to the widespread implications of such research, Dr. Wells has been featured in several publications. Ultimately, the importance of his research flows from the provision of reinforcing insights and novel avenues for exploration into the basic signaling pathways, as well as functioning of entire organisms leading to applied therapeutic approaches. Currently, Dr. Wells is concentrating his research efforts towards gaining further knowledge of the conditions of dysregulated (tumor dissemination and chemoresistance of tumors) and orchestrated (wound healing and organogenesis) responses. To accomplish this, Dr. Wells and his colleagues are at the forefront of developing all human microphyisological systems for both investigation and therapeutic testing.

Awards and Honors

  • 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

Selected Publications

View Dr. Wells' publications on PubMed

J Grahovac, D Becker, A Wells (2013). Melanoma cell invasiveness is regulated at least in part by the epidermal growth factor-like repeats of tenascin-C. Journal of Investigative Dermatology 133, 210-220. PMID: 22951722

M Rodrigues, HC Blair, L Stockdale, L Griffith, A Wells (2013). Surface tethered epidermal growth factor protects proliferating and differentiating multipotent stromal cells from FasL induced apoptosis. Stem Cells 31, 104-116. PMID: 22948863

T Travers, H Shao, A Wells, C Camacho (2013). Modeling the assembly and disassembly of multi-domain structures of -actinin-4 and its role in actin-crosslinking. Biophysical Journal 104, 705-715. PMID: 23442921

D Taylor, JZ Wells, A Savol, C Chennubhotla, A Wells (2013). Modeling boundary conditions for balanced proliferation in metastatic latency. Clinical Cancer Research 19, 1063-1070. PMID: 23329811. PMC3594128

H Shao, T Travers, C Camacho, A Wells (2013). The carboxyl tail of alpha-actinin-4 regulates its susceptibility to m-calpain and thus functions in cell migration and spreading. International Journal of Biochemistry and Cell Biology 45, 1051-1063. PMC3633689.

M Rodrigues, CC Yates, A Nuschke, L Griffith, A Wells (2013). The matrikine tenascin-C protects multipotential stromal cells/mesenchymal stem cells from death cytokines such as FasL. Tissue Engineering 19, 1972-1983. PMID: 23541003; PMC: 3725854

Z Ding, M Joy, R Bhargava, M Gunsaulus, N Lakshman, M Miron-Mendoza, M Petroll, J Condeelis, A Wells, P Roy (2014) Profilin-1 downregulation has contrasting effects on early vs late steps of breast cancer metastasis. Oncogene 33, 2065-2074. PMID: 23686314. PMC3834125

J Jamison, D Lauffenburger, JH-C Wang, A Wells (2013). PKC? localization at the membrane increases traction force dependent on PLC?1/EGFR signaling. PLoS One 8, e77434. PMID: 24155954. PMC3796482

T-C Hang, NC Tedford, RJ Reddy, T Rimchala, A Wells, FM White, RD Kamm, DA Lauffenburger (2013). Vascular endothelial growth factor and platelet factor 4 inputs modulate human microvascular endothelial signaling in a three-dimensional matrix migration context. Molecular and Cellular Proteomics 12, 3704-3718. PMID: 24023389. PMC3861718

RJ Bodnar, ME Rodgers, W Chen, A Wells (2013). Pericyte regulation of vascular remodeling through the CXC Receptor 3. Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology 33, 2818-2829. PMID: 24135023

MC Sekar, K Shahiwala, L Leloup, A Wells (2014). Modulation of epidermal growth factor stimulated ERK phosphorylation and motility by inositol trisphosphate kinase. Journal of Pharmacological Sciences and Pharmacology 1, 1-5.

DP Taylor, A Clark, S Wheeler, A Wells (2014). Hepatic nonparenchymal cells drive metastatic breast cancer outgrowth and partial epithelial to mesenchymal transition. Breast Cancer Research and Treatment 144, 551-560. PMID: 24610032. PMC4009995

B Ma, A Wells (2014). The MAP kinases p38 and ERK are involved in hepatocyte-mediated phenotypic switching in prostate cancer cells. Journal of Biological Chemistry 289, 11153-11161. PMID: 24619413

J Jamison, JH-C Wang, A Wells (2014). PKC regulates force signaling during VEGF/CXCL4 induced dissociation of endothelial tubes. PLoS One 9, e93968. PMID: 24699667, PMCID: PMC3974837

AC Huen, A Marthi, A Wells (2014). CXCL11 expression by keratinocytes occurs transiently between reaching confluence and cellular compaction. Submitted.

SE Wheeler, AM Clark, DP Taylor, CL Young, V Pillai, DB Stolz, R Venkataramanan, D Lauffenburger, L Griffith, A Wells (2014). Spontaneous dormancy of metastatic breast cancer cells in an all human liver microphysiologic system. British Journal of Cancer 111, 2342-2350.

H Shao, S Li, SC Watkins, A Wells (2014). Alpha-actinin-4 is required for amoeboid-type invasiveness of melanoma cells. Journal of Biological Chemistry 289, 32717-32728.

A Nuschke, M Rodrigues, DB Stolz, C Chu, L Griffith, A Wells (2014). Human mesenchymal stem cells/multipotent stromal cells consume accumulated autophagosomes early in differentiation. Stem Cell Research and Therapy 5, e140.

K Warita, T Warita, C Beckwitt, M Schurdak A Vazquez, A Wells, ZN Oltvai (2015). Statin-induced mevalonate pathway inhibition attenuates the growth of mesenchymal-like cancer cells that lack functional E-cadherin mediated cell cohesion. Scientific Reports 4, e7593.

M Furukawa, S Wheeler, AM Clark, A Wells (2015). Lung epithelial cells induce both phenotype alteration and senescence in breast cancer cells. PLoS One 10:e0118060.

T Travers, H Shao, BA Joughin, DA Lauffenburger, A Wells, C Camacho (2015). Novel regulatory mechanism by tandem phosphorylation sites in the intrinsically disordered N-terminal region of ACTN4. Science Signaling 8, ra51.

JJ Rivera, VP Raut, L Stockdale, LM Alvarez, TE Patterson, CA Boehm, A Wells, G Muschler, L Griffith (2015). An EGF fusion protein-functionalized beta-TCP enhances osteogenic colony formation by freshly-isolated progenitor cells. Submitted.


A Wells, J Grahovac, S Wheeler, DP Taylor, B Ma, DA Lauffenburger (2013). Targeting tumor cell motility as a strategy against invasion and metastasis. Trends in Pharmacological Sciences 34, 283-289. PMID: 23571046. PMC3640670

A Wells, LG Griffith, JZ Wells, DP Taylor (2013). The dormancy dilemna: Balanced proliferation versus quiescence. Cancer Research 73, 3811-3816. PMID: 23794703. PMC3702639

J Grahovac, DA Lauffenburger, A Wells (2014). Matricellular proteins as regulators of cancer cell invasion. Lab Investigation 94, 31-40. PMID: 24247562.

SE Wheeler, (alphabetically): JT Borenstein, AM Clark, M Ebrahimkhani, IJ Fox, L Griffith, W Inman, D Lauffenburger, T Nguyen, VC Pillai, R Prantil-Baun, DB Stolz, D Taylor, T Ulrich, R Venkataramanan, A Wells, C Young (2014). All-Human Model of Metastasis Therapy. Stem Cell Research and Therapy 4S1, S11. PMID: 24565274. PMC in process

AM Clark, SE Wheeler, DP Taylor, VC Pillai, CL Young, R Prantil-Baun, T Nguyen, DB Stolz, JT Borenstein, DA Lauffenburger, R Venkataramanan, LG Griffith, A Wells (2014). A microphysiological system model of therapy for liver micrometastases. Experimental Biology and Medicine 239, 1170-1179. PMID: 24821820. PMC in process after embargo

LG Griffith, A Wells, DB Stolz (2014). Engineering liver. Hepatology 60, 1426-1434. PMID: 24668880

H Shao, JM Kirkwood, A Wells (2015). Tenascin C signaling in melanoma. Cell Adhesion and Migration, in press.

B Ma, A Khazali, A Wells (2015). CXCR3 in carcinoma progression. Histology and Histopathology, in press.

A Wells, A Nuschke, CC Yates (2015). Skin tissue repair: matrix microenvironmental influences. Matrix Biology, accepted.