Dan Welch, PhD Headshot

Chair & Professor, Cancer Biology

Adjunct Faculty of

Department of Molecular & Integrative Physiology

University of Kansas Medical Center


Danny R. Welch, Ph.D. is a cancer biologist whose laboratory has discovered eight of the 30 known metastasis suppressor genes. His laboratory has also recently discovered how some of those metastasis suppressors function and is designing therapies to take advantage of their mechanisms of action. His is author of more than 200 peer-reviewed publications as well as more than 20 book chapters. He is also co-editor of the textbook Cancer Metastasis.

After receiving a B.S. degree in Biology from the University of California-Irvine and a Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Texas-Houston under the tutelage of Garth Nicolson, Dr. Welch worked in the pharmaceutical industry studying cancer biology and virology before joining Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine in 1990 as one of the original faculty in the Jake Gittlen Cancer Research Institute. While in Hershey, Dr. Welch served in numerous roles, including as a member of the ACS Pennsylvania Division Board of Directors and director of the National Foundation for Cancer Research Center for Metastasis Research. In 2002, Dr. Welch’s laboratory moved to the University of Alabama - Birmingham where he became the Leonard H Robinson Professor of Pathology. He also served as Professor of Cell Biology and Pharmacology/Toxicology as well as a senior member in the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center, Center for Metabolic Bone Disease, Gene Therapy Center, Skin Diseases Research Center, Center for Biophysical Sciences and Engineering and the Biomedical Engineering and Regenerative Medicine Center.

In 2011, he founded a new Department of Cancer Biology at the University of Kansas Cancer Center, was named Hall Family Foundation Endowed Chair in Molecular Medicine, Kansas Bioscience Authority Eminent Scholar and Associate Director for Basic Sciences & Education at the NCI-designated University of Kansas Cancer Center. Welch is currently Professor of Cancer Biology but also holds appointments as Professor of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine and Professor of Molecular & Integrative Physiology.

Welch is a Komen Scholar and Past-President of the Cancer Biology Training Consortium. He serves on numerous grant review panels for the NIH, DOD, ACS, Komen, European Union as well as other international agencies. Dr. Welch has served as Editor-in-Chief for Clinical and Experimental Metastasis and is currently Deputy Editor at Cancer Research as well as an Associate Editor for numerous other editorial boards. He is also the recipient of numerous mentoring and teaching awards.

Research Overview: The most lethal attribute of cancer cells is their ability to disseminate and colonize other tissues. More than 90% of the morbidity and mortality in cancer is due to metastasis. The Welch lab has cloned eight metastasis suppressing genes (including two new ones in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma), whose function is lost in advanced cancers. Several of these molecules prevent outgrowth of tumor cells that have disseminated prior to primary tumor detection. Dr. Welch and colleagues seek to exploit these genes to develop new classes of anti-metastatic therapy. Most recently, Welch and colleagues have uncovered evidence that the mitochondrial genome plays an unexpectedly large role in regulating breast cancer tumorigenicity and metastasis (as well as cardiovascular disease).