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Mark LaBarge

biologist: Biosciences

Media contact: Dan Krotz, (510) 486-4019.


Mark's principle interests are to understand the role of microenvironment in mammary stem cell fate decisions in the contexts of aging and breast cancer.  The vast majority of women diagnosed with breast cancer are over 50, and the tumors they bear are largely of a luminal subtype.

The objectives of his research program are to generate a comprehensive understanding of the effects of the aging process on the normal human mammary gland and how these processes may contribute to breast tumor genesis.  During his career, Mark hopes to identify specific preventative measures that can be taken to avoid deleterious metastable states of aging that leave women vulnerable to breast cancer progression.

The cornerstone of his approach involves the use and characterization of a growing collection of normal human mammary epithelial cell (HMEC) strains, dubbed the HMEC Aging Resource, that was generated with Mark's close collaborators Dr. Martha Stampfer and Dr. James Garbe.  He explores the functional impact of aging on different lineages of HMEC by probing them with combinatorial bioengineered culture substrata and quantitative imaging analysis.  In doing so, he and his team are deriving a catalog of microenvironmental, epigenetic, genetic, and cellular changes that occur normally with age, and are trying to determine mechanistically how those changes increase the vulnerability of older women to breast cancer. Some of their specific projects include:

  • Quantitative characterization architectural and microenvironmental changes in normal human mammary epithelia during the aging process.
  • Quantitative dissection of functional changes in human mammary epithelial multipotent progenitors with age.
  • Impact of low dose radiation on communities of mammary epithelial cells as a function of age and microenvironment.
  • Dissecting the role of microenvironment and age in drug response.

Recent Publications

Garbe JC, Pepin F, Pelissier FA, Fridriksdottir A, Sputova K, Guo DE, Villadsen R, Park M, Petersen OW, Barowsky A, Stampfer MR, and LaBarge MA. Aging is associated with increased multipotent progenitors with a basal differentiation bias in human mammary epithelia. Cancer Research (2012). In press

LaBarge MA, Garbe JC, and Stampfer MR. Processing of human reduction mammoplasty and mastectomy tissues for cell culture. Journal of Visualized Experimentation (2012). In press

Lin CH, Lee J, and LaBarge MA. Fabrication and use of MicroEnvironment microArrays. Journal of Visualized Experimentation (2012). In press

LaBarge MA. On stem cells in the human breast.  Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol. (2012) May 1;4(5). PMID: 22550235

Chanson L*, Brownfield D*, Garbe, JC, Kuhn I, Stampfer MR, Bissell MJ, and LaBarge MA#. Self-organization is a dynamic and lineage-intrinsic property of mammary epithelial cells. PNAS (2011), 108(8)3264-9. PMCID PMC3044373

LaBarge MA#.  The difficulty of targeting cancer stem cell niches. (2010) Clinical Cancer Research. June 15;16(12):3121-9

LaBarge MA#, Nelson CM, Villadsen R, Fridriksdottir A, Ruth JR, Stampfer MM, Petersen OW, and Bissell MJ. Human mammary progenitor cell fate decisions are products of interactions with combinatorial microenvironments. (2009)  Integrative Biology. January 1(1):70-79.

Awards and Memberships

2012, “Future Leaders, New Directions in Aging Research”, Gerontological Society of America
2008, “Future Leaders, New Directions”, American Association for Cancer Research


PhD. Stanford Univerisity

last updated: 2017-08-04 10:31:33