Ann Chambers, PhD

Ann Chambers


Distinguished Oncology Scientist: London Regional Cancer Program, London Health Sciences Centre, London, Ontario

Director: Pamela Greenaway-Kohlmeier Translational Breast Cancer Research Unit

Canada Research Chair in Oncology: Canada Research Chairs

Professor of Oncology: University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario

Cross Appointments: Medical Biophysics and Pathology and Laboratory Medicine


Mailing Address

London Regional Cancer Program
Room A4-903b
Cancer Research Laboratory Program
790 Commissioners Rd. E.
London, Ontario
Canada N6A 4L6

Tel:  519.685.8652
Fax: 519.685.8646

Research Area

Cell and molecular biology of metastasis

Summary of Current Work

Metastasis, the spread of cancer cells from a primary tumor to new sites, is a major factor in preventing successful treatment of cancer. Metastasis can occur after years of dormancy following treatment of a primary cancer. We are using experimental and clinical approaches to study metastasis and tumor dormancy. We have used in vivo videomicroscopy to clarify the steps and molecular mechanisms in metastasis. We have discovered that large numbers of dormant single cells may remain in secondary organs, with the potential to resume growth at later times to form metastases. We also are using in vitro models to study the molecular regulation of tumor dormancy. Our research suggests that new anti-metastatic therapies should be directed against the site-specific growth of cancer cells after they have arrived in the new organ. We are collaborating with Dr. Paula Foster to use novel cellular magnetic resonance imaging approaches to study metastasis and tumor dormancy.  We also are collaborating with Dr. Jim Lacefield in the use of small animal ultrasound approaches to quantify and model tumor growth and blood flow parameters.

We also are studying how an oncogene-induced, integrin-binding protein called osteopontin (OPN) contributes to the growth and progression of many kinds of tumors, in collaboration with Dr. Alan Tuck, and spearheaded in the lab by Dr. Pieter Anborgh. We have shown that OPN can function to promote malignancy of cells in culture, and we are studying how OPN affects tumor growth and progression. We have developed an ELISA that can measure OPN plasma levels in patients.  In clinical studies, we have shown that women with metastatic breast cancer, as well as men with castrate resistant prostate cancer, have blood OPN levels that are higher than normal levels, and that OPN tissue levels are higher in many types of tumors than in adjacent normal tissue. Elevated OPN levels are associated with poorer survival. These experimental and clinical studies will clarify the role of OPN functionally in cancer, and its potential role as a prognostic marker in breast, prostate and other cancers.

In collaboration with Dr. Tuck, we also are studying molecular determinants of early breast cancer progression. Using in vitro and in vivo models, we have identified a series of genes whose expression changes as breast cells progress from atypical ductal hyperplasia, to ductal carcinoma in situ, to invasive mammary carcinoma.

The overall aim of our research is to learn how cancer cells spread, in order that new approaches to prevent, delay or treat development of metastatic disease can be developed.


PubMed Publications

See my Publications on PubMed

See my Google Scholar Profile

Key Contributions

Kirstein JM, Hague MN, McGowan PM, Tuck AB, Chambers AF. 2016. Primary melanoma tumor inhibits metastasis through alterations in systemic hemostasis. Journal of Molecular Medicine 94:899-910. View Publication (PDF) V

Barkan D, Chambers AF. 2016. Prevention of conversion of tumor dormancy into proliferative metastases. In: Cote R, Datar R (editors), Circulating Tumor Cells, Springer. Chapter 7, pp 121-137.View Publication (PDF)

Allan AL, Chambers AF. 2016. Circulating tumor cells and tumor dormancy. In: Cote R, Datar R (editors), Circulating Tumor Cells, Springer. Chapter 6, pp 101-120. View Publication (PDF) 

Chambers AF, Werb Z. 2015. Invasion and metastasis – Recent advances and future challenges, Journal of Molecular Medicine 93:361-368. View Publication (PDF)

Bramwell VH, Tuck AB, Chapman JA, Anborgh PH, Postenka CO, Al-Katib W, Shepherd LE, Han L, Wilson CF, Pritchard KI, Pollak MN, Chambers AF. Assessment of osteopontin in early breast cancer: correlative study in a randomised clinical trial. Breast Cancer Res. 2014 Jan 22;16(1):R8. doi: 10.1186/bcr3600. View Publication (PDF)

Barkan D, Chambers AF. 2011. β1-integrin: A potential therapeutic target in the battle against cancer recurrence.  Clinical Cancer Research 17:7219-23.

View Publication (PDF)

Goss PE, Chambers AF. 2010. Does tumour dormancy offer a therapeutic target? Nature Reviews Cancer 10: 871-877, 2010.

View Publication (PDF)

Chambers AF. 2009. MDA-MB-435 and M14 cell lines: identical but not M14 melanoma?   Cancer Research 69: 5292-5293.

View Publication (PDF)

Townson JL, Ramadan SS, Simedrea C, Rutt BK, MacDonald IC, Foster PJ, Chambers AF. 2009. Three-dimensional imaging and quantification of both solitary cells and metastases in whole mouse liver by magnetic resonance imaging.   Cancer Research 69: 8326-8331.

View Publication (PDF)

Anborgh PH, Wilson SM, Tuck AB, Winquist E, Schmidt N, Hart R, Maeda M, Kon S, Uede T, Stitt LW, Chambers AF. 2009. New dual monoclonal ELISA for measuring plasma osteopontin as a biomarker associated with survival in prostate cancer: clinical validation and comparison of multiple ELISAs.  Clinical Chemistry 55: 895-903.

View Publication (PDF)

Heyn C, Ronald JA, MacKenzie LT, MacDonald IC, Chambers AF, Rutt BK, Foster PJ. 2006. In vivo magnetic resonance imaging of single cells in mouse brain with optical validation. Magnetic Resonance in Medicine 55: 23-29.

View Publication (PDF)

Bramwell VHC, Doig GS, Tuck AB, Wilson SM, Tonkin KS, Tomiak A, Perera F, Vandenberg TA, Chambers AF. 2006.  Serial plasma osteopontin levels have prognostic value in metastatic breast cancer.  Clinical Cancer Research 12: 3337-3343. 

View Publication (PDF)

Graham KC, Wirtzfeld LA, MacKenzie LT, Postenka CO, Groom AC, MacDonald IC, Fenster A, Lacefield JD, Chambers AF. 2005. Three-dimensional high-frequency ultrasound imaging for longitudinal evaluation of liver metastases in pre-clinical models.  Cancer Research 65: 5231-5237.  

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Rittling SR, Chambers AF. 2004. Role of osteopontin in tumor progression.  British Journal of Cancer 90: 1877-1881.

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Coppola D, Szabo M, Bouleware D, Muraca P, Alsarraj M, Chambers AF, Yeatman TJ.  2004. Correlation of OPN protein expression and pathologic stage across a wide variety of tumor histologies.  Clinical Cancer Research 10: 184-190.

View Publication (PDF)

Naumov GN, Townson JL, MacDonald IC, Wilson SM, Bramwell VHC, Groom AC, Chambers AF. 2003. Ineffectiveness of doxorubicin treatment on solitary dormant mammary carcinoma cells or late-developing metastases.  Breast Cancer Research and Treatment 82: 199-206.

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Chambers AF, AC Groom and IC MacDonald. 2002. Dissemination and growth of cancer cells in metastatic sites. Nature Reviews Cancer 2: 563-572, 2002.

View Publication (PDF)

Naumov GN, MacDonald IC, Weinmeister PM, Kerkvliet N, Nadkarni KV, Wilson SM, Morris VL, Groom AC, Chambers AF. 2002. Persistence of solitary mammary carcinoma cells in a secondary site: a possible contributor to dormancy.  Cancer Research 62: 2162-2168.

View Publication (PDF)

Chambers AF, Matrisian LM. 1997. Changing views of the role of matrix metalloproteinases in metastasis.  Journal of the National Cancer Institute 89: 1260-1270.

View Publication (PDF)

Singhal H, Bautista DS, Tonkin KS, O’Malley FP, Tuck AB, Chambers AF, Harris JF. 1997. Elevated plasma osteopontin in metastatic breast cancer associated with increased tumor burden and decreased survival.  Clinical Cancer Research 3: 605-611. 

View Publication (PDF)

David Holzman. 1996. New view of metastasis is spreading.  Journal of the National Cancer Institute 88:1336-1338.

View Publication (PDF)

Jocelyn Rice. Metastasis: The rude awakening.  Nature 485, S55–S57 (31 May 2012)

View Publication PDF


Key Collaborators

Alan B. Tuck, MD, PhD, FRCPC (Anatomic Pathology)
Departments of
Pathology and Oncology, University of Western Ontario
Staff Pathologist: Department of Pathology,
London Health Sciences Centre

Dr. Tuck is a pathologist, specializing in breast pathology, whose clinical work is based at London Health Sciences Center and St. Joseph's Health Centre, also affiliated with the London Regional Cancer Program. He is a consultant in breast pathology for SW Ontario. Research interests include the cell and molecular biology of breast cancer, osteopontin, tumor metastasis, and early development of models for studying breast cancer progression. This research is translational in nature, with the goal of developing new tools/targets for the management of patients at different stages of breast cancer.

Paula Foster

Robarts Research Institute, University of Western Ontario


James Lacefield

Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Western Ont


Staff and Research Trainees

Research Associate:

Pieter Anborgh, PhD
Project: Experimental and clinical studies on the role of osteopontin in cancer
Email: Dr. Pieter Anborgh


Graduate Student:

Milica Krstic

PhD student, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Department

Supervisor: Dr. Alan Tuck

Joint Supervisor: Dr. Ann Chambers

Project: Role of the transcriptional regulator TBX3 in early breast cancer progression

Email: Milica Krstic


Research Technicians:

David Dales, BSc (Honours Genetics), Senior Research Technician
Specialty: Molecular and cellular biology and overall laboratory management
Email David Dales

Nicole Hague, BSc, RVT

Specialty: Veterinary technician

Email  Nicole Hague

Carl Postenka, BSc, M.L.T., Histology Research Technician
Specialty: Animal handling and all aspects of histology (with Dr. Alan Tuck)
Email Carl Postenka

Joseph Andrews, Bsc, MSc, Research Technician

Specialty:  Microarray technology, molecular biology;

bioinformatics (with Dr. David Rodenhiser)

Email Joseph Andrews





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