James E. Bear

James E. Bear, PhD, is a UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center member, Professor at UNC Chapel-Hill in the Department of Cell Biology and Physiology and co-leader of the Cancer Cell Biology Program.

Cancer Cell Biology

Area of interest

The Bear lab studies actin cytoskeletal dynamics, cell motility and tumor invasion/metastasis. We use a combination of modern molecular perturbations such as gene knockouts, RNAi and CRISPR/Cas9 to manipulate proteins involved in migration. In addition, we are studying how tumor cells mis-regulate their cell motility during invasion and metastasis. One of the main techniques utilized by the lab is live-cell microscopy. We use this technique across a range of length and time-scales to track proteins and protein complexes inside of cells, track the migration of cells and understand the consequences of migration for tissue architecture. We are also exploiting new micro-fabarication and microfluidic approaches to study the migration cells in response to gradients of various cues such as soluble growth factors (chemotaxis), substrate attached ECM proteins (haptotaxis) and gradients of mechanical stiffness (durotaxis).

Awards and Honors

  • Jeffery Houpt Distinguished Investigator Award, 2017
  • Omicron Delta Kappa, Honoris Causa, Davidson College circle, 2015
  • Judge, Olympus BioScapes Image Competition, 2013
  • Ruth and Phillip Hettleman Prize for Artistic and Scholarly Achievement, 2010
  • HHMI Early Career Scientist, 2009-2015
  • Jefferson-Pilot Award, 2008
  • Sontag Foundation, Distinguished Scientist Award, 2006
  • Melanoma Research Foundation Junior Faculty Award, 2005
  • V Foundation Scholar Award, 2004
  • Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Special Fellow, 2001-2004
  • Anna Fuller Molecular Oncology Fellow, 1999-2000
  • Phi Beta Kappa, Davidson College chapter, 1993
  • Samuel H. Bell Memorial Scholar, Davidson College, 1989-1993

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