Tony Hunter, PhD

American Cancer Society Professor

Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory

Renato Dulbecco Chair

Tony Hunter
Salk Institute for Biological Studies - Videos


Profile of Tony Hunter

Tony Hunter is American Cancer Society Professor in the Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory and Renato Dulbecco Chair. He is a cell biologist and cancer researcher who studies how cells regulate their growth and division, and how mutations in genes that regulate cell growth lead to cancer. In 1979, his lab discovered that phosphate can be attached to the amino acid tyrosine in proteins. Based on Hunter’s findings, the drug Gleevec was developed as a targeted therapy for a leukemia driven by a mutated enzyme that adds phosphates to tyrosine in proteins in an uncontrolled manner. This early success has now led to the development of a new class of cancer drugs that target misbehaving tyrosine kinases. Currently, Hunter’s group is focused on identifying growth factors and cytokines produced in the pancreatic cancer microenvironment to promote tumor progression.

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New study targets Achilles’ heel of pancreatic cancer, with promising results

LA JOLLA—Advanced pancreatic cancer is often symptomless, leading to late diagnosis only after metastases have spread throughout the body. Additionally, tumor cells are encased in a “protective shield,” a microenvironment conferring resistance to many cancer treatment drugs. Now, Salk Institute researchers, along with an international team of collaborators, have uncovered the role of a signaling protein that may be the Achilles’ heel of pancreatic cancer. Read more »


BA, First Class Honors, University of Cambridge, England
PhD, University of Cambridge, England
Postdoctoral Fellow, The Salk Institute and University of Cambridge

Awards & Honors

  • AACR Lifetime Achievement Award in Cancer Research, 2022
  • National Cancer Institute Outstanding Investigator, 2019
  • Tang Prize for Biopharmaceutical Science, 2018
  • Pezcoller-AACR International Award for Extraordinary Achievement in Cancer Research, 2018
  • Sjöberg Prize for Cancer Research, 2017
  • BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award, Biomedicine, 2015
  • Royal Society, Royal Medal Award, 2014
  • American Association for Cancer Research Fellow, 2013
  • Clifford Prize for Cancer Research, 2007
  • Robert J. and Claire Pasarow Award for Cancer Research, 2006
  • Daniel Nathans Memorial Award, 2006
  • American Philosophical Society Member, 2006
  • Wolf Prize in Medicine, 2005
  • Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize, 2004
  • Prince of Asturias Award for Scientific and Technical Research, 2004
  • Kirk A. Landon-AACR Prize for Basic Cancer Research, 2004
  • American Cancer Society Medal of Honor, 2004
  • National Academy of Medicine, 2004
  • City of Medicine Award, 2003
  • Sergio Lombroso Award in Cancer Research, 2003
  • Keio Medical Science Prize, 2001
  • J. Allyn Taylor International Prize in Medicine, 2000
  • Gairdner Foundation International Award, 1994
  • General Motors Cancer Research Foundation Prize, 1994
  • American Academy of Arts and Sciences Fellow, 1992
  • Royal Society of London Fellow, 1987
  • American Cancer Society Research Professor
  • United States National Academy of Sciences Member