You are here

Michael F. Press, MD, PhD

Professor of Pathology
Harold E. Lee Chair in Cancer Research
Director of Breast Cancer Analysis Lab
Keck School of Medicine
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, California

Current Research

  • Seeking biomarkers that can predict response to targeted therapies so that more personalized treatment strategies can be employed.

  • Laboratory studies are ongoing to identify molecular markers that could be used to select breast cancer patients for various targeted therapies.

  • Resistance to targeted therapies hampers their success. This research will help to match patients to the right drugs for their tumor.

Predictive markers, such as estrogen receptor (ER) and HER2, play an important role in selecting the most appropriate (targeted) treatment for women with breast cancer. Dr. Press and his team are conducting analyses of the new ASCO-CAP guidelines for HER2 testing, as well as identification and characterization of new molecular markers of both trastuzumab and anti-estrogen treatment resistance.

Ongoing studies include:  1) Apply patient outcomes data from large clinical trials to assess guidelines for HER2 status classification of tumors 2) Assessment of the role of MYST2, a gene frequently co-amplified along with HER2, as a potential marker of anti-estrogen treatment resistance 3) Characterization of mutations in a gene known as PIK3CA to determine whether or not these mutations play a role in treatment resistance 4) Determination of whether mutations in ER-associated genes play a role in anti-estrogen resistance.

In the last year, Dr. Press' team characterized several molecular genetic alterations that may be used for selecting breast cancer patients for various targeted therapies.  This year, they will correlate these alterations with outcomes in breast cancer patients. 

These studies are expected to have both an immediate and potentially long-term impact on personalized medicine for breast cancer patients. 


Dr. Press is a Professor in the Department of Pathology and holds the Harold E. Lee Chair in Cancer Research at the University of Southern California’s Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Press is a board certified pathologist, directs the USC Breast Cancer Analysis Laboratory as well as the Central Laboratory for the Translational Research In Oncology (TRIO)/Cancer International Research Group (CIRG), and is Leader of the USC Clinical Laboratories.

His laboratory evaluates prognostic and predictive markers used in making treatment decisions for women with breast cancer. It has served as the Central Laboratory for either retrospective or prospective analyses of tissue specimens for 18 clinical trials that collectively accrued more than 13,000 patients. Dr. Press’s area of research interest is in molecular alterations of breast and gynecologic cancers, especially those that have the potential to be important in either diagnostic or therapeutic decision-making for patient management. His research has been continuously funded by research grants for more than 25 years. He is the author or co-author of more than 200 peer-reviewed publications. The most prominent area of activity for his laboratory has been in the study of the human epidermal growth factor receptor type 2 (HER2) in breast and other cancers. He published his first paper in this area in 1989 (Science 244: 707-712, 1989) and his laboratory is still actively contributing to this area as well as to the conduct of clinical trials evaluating HER2 as a target for therapy.

BCRF Investigator Since


Donor Recognition

The Bloomingdale's Award

Area(s) of Focus