Sara A. Courtneidge, Ph.D.

Sara Courtneidge's Research Focus

Cancer, Brain Cancer, Breast Cancer, Colorectal Cancer, Lung Cancer, Skin Cancer and Melanoma, Inherited Disorders

Dr. Courtneidge’s laboratory has studied the Src family of protein tyrosine kinases for a number of years. Src was the first oncogene to be discovered, and the first protein tyrosine kinase, and dissecting the mechanisms of Src transformation, regulation, substrate selection and function has proven to be a powerful research paradigm to understand tumorigenesis. In addition, since Src is frequently up-regulated and hyperactivated in human cancers, particularly of the breast and colon, such research is of direct relevance to human disease. Current research in the laboratory focuses on three main areas. The first involves defining how Src and its substrates, Tks4 and Tks5, drive the formation of podosomes and invadopodia, which are protrusive membrane structures of normal and cancer cells respectively that coordinate migration with extracellular matrix degradation. Since invadopodia are found in metastatic human cancer cells, the second focus is to identify and validate molecular targets in invadopodia, in order to define novel therapeutic points of intervention for the treatment of metastatic disease. The third research area involves defining in molecular detail the role of the Tks adaptor proteins during development, using both zebrafish and mice as model organisms.

Sara Courtneidge's Bio

Sara A. Courtneidge, Ph.D. is Professor and Director of the Tumor Microenvironment Program, and Director of Academic Affairs at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute in La Jolla, California. Dr. Courtneidge was born in the UK, and received her undergraduate degree from the University of Leeds and her Ph.D. from the National Institute for Medical Research. Following postdoctoral study at the University of California, San Francisco, and an independent position at the National Institute for Medical Research, she joined the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in 1985, where she rose to the position of Senior Scientist. Changing course in 1994, Dr. Courtneidge joined SUGEN Inc. as Vice President of Research, where she guided novel kinase discovery and validation efforts in oncology. From 2001-2005 she was Distinguished Scientific Investigator at the Van Andel Research Institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Dr. Courtneidge joined Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute in May 2005.


Dr. Courtneidge received her undergraduate degree from the University of Leeds and her Ph.D. from the National Institute for Medical Research. She completed postdoctoral studies at the University of California, San Francisco.

Other Appointments

Adjunct Professor, Department of Pharmacology, University of California, San Diego

Honors and Recognition

Elected member of the European Molecular Biology Organization (1990)
The Jubilee Lecture and Harden Medal of the British Biochemical Society (2001)
The Feodor Lynen Lecture and Lynen Medal, Nature Biotechnology Winter Symposium (2005)
Doctor of Science (honoris causa), The University of Leeds, UK (2006)

Other Affiliations

    • American Association for Cancer Research
    • European Molecular Biology Organization
    • American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
    • American Society of Cell Biology
    • Genes and Development (1992- )
    • Cancer Cell (2002- )
    • Pharmacology and Therapeutics (2010- )
    • Cancer Discovery (2011- )
    • Basic Mechanisms of Cancer Therapeutics Study Section (2007-2011) (Chair 2009-2011)
    • Scientific Review Board, Howard Hughes Medical Institute (2008- )
    • American Association for Cancer Research Strategic Planning Meeting, Think Tanks and various Prize Selection Committees (2002- ), Board of Directors (2005-2008), Nominating Committee (2009-2010), Finance and Audit Committee (2010-2013)
    • Children’s Tumor Foundation Research Advisory Board (1998- )
    • Board of Directors of the Foundation for Advanced Cancer Studies (2000- )
    • Scientific Advisory Board, Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute (2006-2009)
    • Scientific Advisory Committee, Tobacco-related Disease Research Program, CA (2008- )
    • Scientific Advisory Board, The Forbeck Foundation (2009- )
    • Scientific Advisory Board, Crown Biosciences (2008- )
    • Co-organizer, Oncogene meeting (1995)
    • Co-organizer, Cold Spring Harbor Conference on Protein Phosphorylation, Cell Signaling and Disease (1999, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009)
    • Co-organizer, Keystone Symposium on Cancer Intervention (2001)
    • Program Chair, American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting (2003)
    • Co-organizer, Keystone Symposium on Molecular Targets for Cancer Therapy (2005)
    • Co-organizer, AACR special conference, Drugging the Cancer Genome (2006)
    • Co-organizer, Salk Institute Conference on Protein Phosphorylation and Cell Signaling (2006, 2008, 2010)
    • Co-organizer, Keystone Symposium on Molecular Targets in Cancer (2007)
    • Program Chair, AACR-NCI-EORTC Molecular Targets Conference (2007)
    • Program Executive Committee Member, AACR-NCI-EORTC Molecular Targets Conference (2009)
    • Program Committee Member, AACR Annual Meeting (2010)
    • Program Chair, Molecular Therapeutics of Cancer Conference (2011)

TMC Accessory


The SRC substrate Tks5, podosomes (invadopodia), and cancer cell invasion.

Courtneidge SA, Azucena EF, Pass I, Seals DF, Tesfay L

Cold Spring Harb Symp Quant Biol 2005 ;70:167-71

The adaptor protein Tks5/Fish is required for podosome formation and function, and for the protease-driven invasion of cancer cells.

Seals DF, Azucena EF Jr, Pass I, Tesfay L, Gordon R, Woodrow M, Resau JH, Courtneidge SA

Cancer Cell 2005 Feb ;7(2):155-65

Platelet-derived growth factor stimulates Src-dependent mRNA stabilization of specific early genes in fibroblasts.

Bromann PA, Korkaya H, Webb CP, Miller J, Calvin TL, Courtneidge SA

J Biol Chem 2005 Mar 18 ;280(11):10253-63

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Cell fusion potentiates tumor heterogeneity and reveals circulating hybrid cells that correlate with stage and survival.

Gast CE, Silk AD, Zarour L, Riegler L, Burkhart JG, Gustafson KT, Parappilly MS, Roh-Johnson M, Goodman JR, Olson B, Schmidt M, Swain JR, Davies PS, Shasthri V, Iizuka S, Flynn P, Watson S, Korkola J, Courtneidge SA, Fischer JM, Jaboin J, Billingsley KG, Lopez CD, Burchard J, Gray J, Coussens LM, Sheppard BC, Wong MH

Sci Adv 2018 Sep ;4(9):eaat7828

Induction of anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) as a novel mechanism of EGFR inhibitor resistance in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma patient-derived models.

Ouyang X, Barling A, Lesch A, Tyner JW, Choonoo G, Zheng C, Jeng S, West TM, Clayburgh D, Courtneidge SA, McWeeney SK, Kulesz-Martin M

Cancer Biol Ther 2018 ;19(10):921-933

Tks adaptor proteins at a glance.

Saini P, Courtneidge SA

J Cell Sci 2018 Jan 8 ;131(1)

Invadosomes are coming: new insights into function and disease relevance.

Paterson EK, Courtneidge SA

FEBS J 2018 Jan ;285(1):8-27

ADAM12 induction by Twist1 promotes tumor invasion and metastasis via regulation of invadopodia and focal adhesions.

Eckert MA, Santiago-Medina M, Lwin TM, Kim J, Courtneidge SA, Yang J

J Cell Sci 2017 Jun 15 ;130(12):2036-2048

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