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Dr. Thea Tlsty is Professor of Pathology at the University of California, San Francisco. She is known for her research in cancer biology, and her involvement in the discovery of cells that may be at the origin of metaplastic cancer, an invasive form of breast cancer.

Dr. Tlsty led an eight-year research study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in 2010, which established a means to predict whether women with early stage breast cancer might develop more serious tumours, using “biomarkers” (biological indicators in the body) to determine cancer risk. She also led research into ‘pluripotent’ stem cells in breast tissue, seeking to identify if these caused tumours. This research had looked at wound cells in breast tissue, and identified ‘repair cells’ that could transform into a range of other cells, including neurons, bone and cartilage – with the potential therefore to also treat cancers and other diseases.

In 2015 Dr. Tlsty co-authored research into the use of 3D tissue culture models to study breast cancer cell generation, and later collaborated with Adam Engler of the University of California, San Diego in developing devices to test how strongly cells attach to tumor tissue, exploring if adhesion strength could be an accurate marker of metastatic cells.

Dr. Tlsty was awarded a 2019 Cancer Research UK Grand Challenge award to support a research project in collaboration with scientists from the UK, Canada, and Israel. The project will focus on understanding how chronic inflammation contributes to cancer.

Dr. Tlsty gained a Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology from the University of South Florida, Tampa (1973). She started a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, which she completed in 1980 after transferring to Washington University in St. Louis.

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