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Joshua LaBaer, MD, PhD

Virginia G. Piper Chair in Personalized Medicine


The Biodesign Institute, Personalized Diagnostics


Visit the LaBaer Lab Web Site

Joshua LaBaer is one of the nation’s foremost investigators in the rapidly expanding field of personalized medicine. His efforts involve the discovery and validation of biomarkers — unique molecular fingerprints of disease — which can provide early warning for those at risk of major illnesses, including cancer and diabetes.

The Virginia G. Piper Center for Personalized Diagnostics (VGPCPD) has a highly multidisciplinary staff of molecular biologists, cell biologists, biochemists, software engineers, database specialists, bioinformaticists, biostatisticians, and automation engineers with individuals ranging from Ph.D. and M.D. degrees to graduate students to technical support individuals. An organizing principle of VGPCPD is the application of open reading frame clones to the high throughput (HT) study of protein function.

Dr. LaBaer was an early initiator and leader of the effort to build fully sequence-verified recombination-based clone sets for human genes and other model organisms now managed in an automated repository with more than 250,000 samples, which are openly shared with the scientific community. His laboratory has developed a number of methods to employ these clones, including HT protein expression and purification, and HT screens of ectopic protein expression in mammalian cells for relevant phenotypes.

In addition, his group invented a novel protein microarray technology, Nucleic Acid Programmable Protein Array, which has been used widely for biomedical research, including the recent discovery of a panel of 28 autoantibody biomarkers that may aid the early diagnosis of breast cancer.

Formerly founder and director of the Harvard Institute of Proteomics, LaBaer was recruited to ASU’s Biodesign Institute as the first Piper Chair in Personalized Medicine in 2009.

Dr. LaBaer completed both his medical internship and residency at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and a clinical fellowship in oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, both in Boston. He is a board certified physician in internal medicine and medical oncology and was an instructor and clinical fellow in medicine at Harvard Medical School. He has contributed more than 140 original research publications, reviews and chapters.

LaBaer is an associate editor of the Journal of Proteome Research and a member of the editorial boards of Analytical Biochemistry, Current Opinion in Biotechnology, Cancer Biomarkers, Molecular Biosystems, and Clinical Proteomics. He is a former member of the National Cancer Institute’s Board of Scientific Advisors and serves as chair of the National Cancer Institute’s Early Detection Research Network Executive Committee and Co-Chair of its Steering Committee. He is the president of the U.S. Human Proteome Organization. He also serves on a number of government and industry scientific advisory boards.

LaBaer earned his medical degree and a doctorate in biochemistry and biophysics, from the University of California, San Francisco.


1981 - B.S. University of California, Berkeley, California
1989 - Ph.D. University of California School of Medicine, San Francisco, California (Biochemistry and Biophysics)
1990 - M.D. University of California School of Medicine

Awards and Honors:

    1978 Edward Frank Kraft Prize for Outstanding Academic Achievement, University of California
    1977-1981 Regents Scholar, University of California
    1981 Phi Beta Kappa
    1981 Citation for Outstanding Student Research, UC Berkeley
    1981 University Medal for Most Distinguished Graduating Senior, UC Berkeley
    1981 Graduation with Highest Honors, UC Berkeley
    1985 Dean’s Prize for Student Research
    1986-1987 Chancellor’s Fellowship
    1989 Alpha Omega Alpha
    2001-04 Arthur and Rochelle Belfer Foundation Awardee, Breast Cancer Research Foundation
    2005- Breast Cancer Research Foundation
    2007 Kavli Frontiers of Science Symposium Recipient
    2009 The Otto Herz Memorial Lectureship in Cancer Research
    2009 The Virginia G. Piper Chair of Personalized Medicine
    2011 Health Care Hero [researcher/innovator]; Phoenix Business Journal

Major Research Interests:

    1. Finding drug and vaccine targets for biodefense pathogens
    2. Disease biomarker discovery
    3. Estrogen resistance in breast cancer
    4. Protein microarray technology and protein interaction mapping
    5. DNA-damage checkpoint regulation