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

Alan Wells, MD, DMSc, is the Vice-Chairman and Head of the Section of Laboratory Medicine (encompassing Clinical Chemistry, Clinical Microbiology, Hematopathology, Immunopathology, Molecular Diagnostics, and Transfusion Medicine). 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
Room 9022
3477 Euler Way
Pittsburgh, PA 15213 USA
Contact Information:
Office Telephone: 412-647-7813
Fax: 412-647-8567

Research Interests

The Wells' Lab 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.

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

Selected Publications

View Dr. Wells' publications on PubMed

CC Yates, D Whaley, S Hooda, PA Hebda, RJ Bodnar, A Wells (2009). Delayed re-epithelialization and basement membrane regeneration after wounding in mice lacking CXCR3. Wound Repair and Regeneration 17, 34-41. PMID: 19152649.

RJ Bodnar, CC Yates, M Rodgers, X Du, A Wells (2009). IP-10 induces dissociation of newly formed vessels. Journal of Cell Science 122, 2064-2077. PMID: 19470579. PMCID: PMC2723158

MO Platt, AJ Roman, A Wells, DA Lauffenburger, LG Griffith (2009). Sustained epidermal growth factor levels and activation by tethered ligand binding enhances osteogenic differentiation of multi-potent marrow stromal cells. Journal of Cellular Physiology 221, 306-317. PMID: 19544388.

MO Platt, CL Wilder, A Wells, LG Griffith, DA Lauffenburger (2009). Multi-pathway kinase signatures of multipotential stromal cells are predictive for osteogenic differentiation: tissue-specific stem cells. Stem Cells 27, 2804-2814. PMID: 19750537.

CC Yates, P Krishna, D Whaley, R Bodnar, T Turner, A Wells (2010). Lack of CXC chemokine receptor 3 (CXCR3) signaling leads to hypertrophic and hypercellular scarring. American Journal of Pathology 176, 1743-1755. PMID: 20203286. PMCID: PMC2843466.

H Shao, C Wu, A Wells (2010). Phosphorylation of α-actinin-4 upon epidermal growth factor (EGF) exposure regulates its interaction with actin. Journal of Biological Chemistry 285, 2591-2600. PMID: 19920151. PMCID: PMC2807316.

M Li, JM Aliotta, JM Asara, Q Wu, LD Tucker, A Wells, PJ Queensberry, B Ramratnam (2010). Intercellular transfer of proteins as identified by stable isotope labeling of amino acids in cell culture. Journal of Biological Chemistry 285, 6285-6297. PMID: 20026604. PMCID: PMC2825424.

BL Hood, J Grahovac, MS Flint, M Sun, N Charro, D Becker, A Wells, TP Conrads (2010). Proteomic analysis of laser microdissected melanoma cells from skin organ cultures. Journal of Proteome Research 9, 3656-3663. PMID: 20459140. PMCID: NIHMS209402

YL Chao, CR Shepard, A Wells (2010). Breast carcinoma cells re-express E-cadherin during mesenchymal to epithelial reverting transition. Molecular Cancer 9, 179. PMID: 20609236. PMCID: PMC2907333.

L Leloup, H Shao, Y-H Bae, B Deasy, D Stolz, P Roy, A Wells (2010). M-Calpain activation is regulated by its membrane localization and by its binding to PIP2. Journal of Biological Chemistry 285, 33549-33566. PMID: 20729206. PMCID: PMC2963356.

H Shao, J-C Wang, MR Pollak, A Wells (2010). α-Actinin-4 is essential for maintaining the spreading, motility, and contractility of fibroblasts. PLoS One 5, e13291. PMID: . PMCID: PMC2978680.

YH Bae, Z Ding, T Das, A Wells, F Gertler, P Roy (2010). Profilin-1 regulates PI(3,4)P2 and lamellipodin accumulation at the leading edge thus influencing MDA-MB-231 cell motility. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA) 107, 21547-21552. PMID: 21115820. PMCID: PMC3003040.

S Wu, A Wells, L Griffith, DA Lauffenburger (2011). Controlling multipotential stromal cell migration by integrating "coarse-graining" materials and "fine-tuning" small molecules via decision tree signal-response modeling. Biomaterials 32, 7524-7531. PMID: 21782235.

C Yates, DL Whaley, A Wells (2011). Transplanted fibroblasts prevent dysfunctional repair in a murine CXCR3-deficient scarring model. Cell Transplantation, in press.

YL Chao, Q Wu, M Acquafondata, R Dhir, A Wells (2011). Partial mesenchymal to epithelial reverting transition in breast and prostate cancer metastases. Cancer Microenvironment, in press.

HD Kim, AS Meyer, JP Wagner, SK Alford, A Wells, FB Gertler, DA Lauffenburger (2011). Signaling network state predicts Twist-mediated effects on breast cell migration across diverse growth factor contexts. Molecular and Cellular Proteomics 10, e10.1074.

YL Chao, Q Wu, C Shepard, A Wells (2011). Hepatocyte-induced re-expression of E-cadherin in breast and prostate cancer cells increases chemoresistance. Clinical and Experimental Metastasis, in press.

M Rodrigues, O Turner, D Stolz, L Griffith, A Wells (2012). Production of reactive oxygen species by multipotent stromal cells/mesenchymal stem cells upon exposure to Fas Ligand. Cell Transplantation, in press.

Q Wu, R Dhir, A Wells (2012). Altered CXCR3 isoform expression regulates prostate cancer cell migration and invasion. Molecular Cancer 11, 3.

AS Meyer, SK Hughes-Alford, JE Kay, A Castillo, A Wells, FB Gertler, DA Lauffenburger (2012). 2D Protrusion but not motility predicts growth factor-induced cancer cell migration in 3D collagen. Journal of Cell Biology, in press.

C Yates-Binder, M Rodger, J Jaynes, A Wells, RJ Bodnar, T Turner (2012). An IP-10 (CXCL10)-derived peptide inhibits angiogenesis. PLoS One, in press.

J Grahovac, D Becker, A Wells (2012). Melanoma cell invasiveness is regulated at least in part by the epidermal growth factor-like repeats of tenascin-C. Journal of Investigative Dermatology, in press.

J Zhou, J Jones, H Wang, S Hardy, D Austin, Q He, T Turner, A Wells, W Grizzle, C Yates (2012). Nuclear Kaiso indicates aggressive prostate cancer and promotes migration and invasiveness of prostate cancer cells. American Journal of Pathology, in press.

M Rodrigues, HC Blair, L Stockdale, L Griffith, A Wells (2012). Surface tethered epidermal growth factor protects proliferating and differentiating multipotent stromal cells from FasL induced apoptosis. Stem Cells, in press.


M Rodrigues, LG Griffith, A Wells (2010). Growth factor regulation of proliferation and survival of MSC. Stem Cell Research and Therapy 1, 32.

A Wells, YL Chao, Q Wu (2010). Biology of metastatic liver tumors. In Molecular Pathology of Liver Diseases (Ed: PSP Monga, Springer).

A Wells, YL Chao, J Grahovac, Q Wu, DA Lauffenburger (2011). Cell motility in carcinoma metastasis as modulated by switching between epithelial and mesenchymal phenotypes. Frontiers in Bioscience 16, 815-837. PMID: 21196205.

L Leloup, A Wells (2011). Calpains as potential anti-cancer targets. Expert Opinion on Therapeutic Targets 15, 309-323. PMID: 21244345.

CC Yates, R Bodnar, A Wells (2011). Matrix control of scarring. Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences 68, 1861-1871. PMID: 21390544

M Rodrigues, LG Griffith, A Wells (2012). Adult stem cell survival strategies. In Biomaterials and Stem Cells in Regenerative Medicine (Eds: M Ramalingam, S Ramkrishna, S Best; CRC Press).

NPAD Gunasinghe, A Wells, EW Thompson, HJ Hugo (2012). Mesenchymal-epithelial transition (MET) as a mechanism for metastatic colonisation in breast cancer. Cancer Metastasis Reviews, epub ahead of print. PMID: 22729277

A Wells (2012). Laboratory Medicine: A view to the future of diagnostics and training. Special lecture of the 58th National Congress (Japan). Rinsho Byori - the Japanese Journal of Clinical Pathology 60, 312-320. PMID: 22686040