Accelerating Breakthrough Discoveries into Medicines

Scott Oakes, MD

Scott Oakes, MD

Scott Oakes, MD, is an Associate Professor of Pathology and member of the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF).

Dr. Oakes’ laboratory studies how mammalian cells sense protein-folding crises within the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and repair the damage or commit apoptosis. . Dr. Oakes’ team, along with Feroz Papa, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine at UCSF, found that the unfolded protein response (UPR) master regulator protein IRE1 is a critical life/death switch under conditions of protein-folding stress. Its kinase and RNase activities modify endoplasmic reticulum activity to maximize cell survival while eliminating any cells unable to rid themselves of misfolded proteins.

Defects in responding to ER stress have been linked to a diverse set of human degenerative diseases, including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, multiple myeloma, diabetes mellitus and cancer. His group has made fundamental discoveries about the pro-survival and pro-death signals sent from the stress sensor proteins at the ER membrane, and contributed to the development of novel pharmacological approaches to control these signaling outputs. The ultimate goal is to understand the precise molecular events that control cell fate in response to ER stress and design small molecules to protect against cell loss in human degenerative diseases and promote cell death in highly secretory tumors.

Dr. Oakes earned his medical degree from the University of Connecticut, Storrs-Mansfield, Conn., and completed his residency in anatomic pathology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston. Following residency, he completed a five-year postdoctoral fellowship in cell biology at Harvard Medical School, Cambridge, Mas., where he studied the regulation of the mitochondrial apoptotic pathway.

Dr. Oakes is an American Cancer Society Research Scholar and was awarded a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Early Career Physician Scientist Award. He is widely published in scientific journals such as Nature Chemical Biology, Science, Cell Metabolism and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Harrington Project

The Harrington Discovery Institute is the nonprofit arm of the Harrington Project for Discovery & Development, an international initiative supporting breakthrough research by physician-scientists. The Project is a new and powerful approach to address some of the challenges hindering advancement of medicine today.

The Harrington Grant is an important part of the overall pharmaceutical research initiative created by The Harrington Project.