Dr. W. Michael Korn is an expert in the management of gastrointestinal cancers. He performs diagnostic and therapeutic endoscopies as well as administers medical treatments, such as chemotherapy. In addition to caring for patients, he is the lead investigator of clinical trials exploring new gastrointestinal cancer treatments. His laboratory is involved in research to develop combination therapies for gastrointestinal and breast cancer, based on the analysis of signal transduction pathways.
A native of Germany, Korn earned a medical degree at the University of Marburg and the University of Dusseldorf in Germany. He completed a medical internship at the University of Bern in Switzerland and concluded training at Ev. Krankenhaus Dinslaken in Germany and the University of Essen's West German Cancer Center. He is an associate professor in residence in Gastroenterology and Hematology and Oncology at UCSF.
One focus of research in my group is the adenovirus receptor CAR in epithelial malignancies. We have found that the adenovirus receptor CAR frequently exhibits reduced expression in gastrointestinal cancers, including liver cancer. Our goal is to elucidate the molecular mechanisms regulating CAR expression in cancer cells, towards designing novel combination therapies consisting of recombinant adenoviruses and signal transduction inhibitors that increase CAR expression. A second project focuses on the rational development of novel combination therapies for cancer based on the analysis of relevant cellular signal transduction pathways. We have applied this approach to improve the cytotoxicity of oncolytic adenoviruses by combining these agents with small molecule signal transduction inhibitors.
Dr. Korn's reserach aims at the rational development of novel combination therapies for gastrointestinal cancer based on an improved understanding of cellular signal transduction pathways. His work is focused on targeting the EGF-receptor/RAS signal transduction pathways. Through collaborations with mathematicians and computer scientist his team has developed computerized models allowing for a systems-level description and simulation of signal transduction processes and functional endpoints (such as apoptosis and cell cycle) in cancer cells. This work has led to the discovery of new mechanisms of pathway cross-talk that led to the development of novel clinical trials that are currently ongoing.
Members of UCSF's Gastrointestinal (GI) Oncology group are the inaugural recipients of the Helen Diller Family Quality Award, an honor that recognizes exceptional commitment to providing superior patient care. The group, led by gastrointestinal cancer expert Alan Venook, MD, was named the top performer in the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center's quality initiative, a pilot project launched in 2007.