Mark Watson, MD, PhD

Mark Watson, MD, PhD

Margaret Gladys Smith Professor in Pathology and Immunology
Vice Chair, Office of Faculty Development


  • Laboratory & Genomic Medicine

Additional Titles

  • Vice Chair, Office of Faculty Development
  • Director, Siteman Cancer Center Tissue Procurement Core
  • Director, Alliance Biorepository and Biospecimen Resource
  • Director, Alliance Foundation Trials Biorepository

Related Links


  • BA, Biochemistry: University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA (1985)
  • PhD, Neurosciences: Washington University, St. Louis, MO (1992)
  • MD: Washington University, St. Louis, MO (1992)

Board Certifications

  • American Board of Pathology, Clinical Pathology


  • Graduate cum laude with honors in Biochemistry, Univ. Pennsylvania, 1985
  • Spencer T. Olin Fellowship, Washington University. 1991
  • Young Investigator Award, Academy of Clinical Laboratory Physicians and Scientists. 1995, 1996
  • NCI Director’s Award for Clinical Science, 2018

Clinical Interests

  • Molecular Diagnostics
  • Cancer Genomics
  • Personalized Medicine

Research Interests

I direct several institutional and national biospecimen banking efforts, mostly in the context of cancer therapeutic trials. Using the resources available through the CAP-accredited, Siteman Cancer Center Tissue Procurement Facility, biospecimens are collected from clinical sites throughout the world, received, processed, and distributed for integral and correlative science biomarker studies. As part of this larger effort, I also supervise the development and deployment of software applications for biospecimen banking and biorepository operations.

My research laboratory is interested in identifying the genomic alterations that contribute to tumor cell metastasis in breast and lung cancer, with the goal of developing advanced genome-based diagnostics to detect, classify, and eradicate metastatic tumor cells to improve long-term patient outcome. By performing genomic analyses of primary tumors, metastatic lesions, circulating tumor cells (CTCs), disseminated tumor cells (DTCs), and cell-free, circulating DNA (cfDNA) from cancer patients, we are identifying biomarkers that are both prognostic for outcome and predictive of therapeutic response. Our goal is to better understand the process of genomic evolution of tumor cells and to leverage this information to develop therapeutic targeting strategies, in collaboration with clinical and surgical oncologists, to mitigate metastatic disease.

Selected Publications

Karlow JA, Devarakonda S, Xing X, Jang HS, Govindan R, Watson M, Wang T. Developmental Pathways Are Epigenetically Reprogrammed during Lung Cancer Brain Metastasis. Cancer Res. 2022 Aug;82(15):2692-2703. PMID: 35706127; PMCID: PMC9357144.
Pillai SG, Siddappa CM, Ma C, Snider J, Kaushal M, Watson MA, Aft R. A microfluidic-based filtration system to enrich for bone marrow disseminated tumor cells from breast cancer patients. PLoS One. 2021 May 14;16(5):e0246139.PMID: 33989287; PMCID: PMC8121342.
Bueno R, Richards WG, Harpole DH, Ballman KV, Tsao MS, Chen Z, Wang X, ChenG,Chirieac LR, Chui MH, Franklin WA, Giordano TJ, Govindan R, Joshi MB, MerrickDT, Rivard CJ, Sporn T, van Bokhoven A, Yu H, Shepherd FA, Watson MA, Beer DG,Hirsch FR. Multi-Institutional Prospective Validation of Prognostic mRNA Signatures in Early-Stage Squamous Lung Cancer (Alliance). J Thorac Oncol. 2020 Nov;15(11):1748-1757. PMID:32717408
Siddappa CM, Pillai SG, Snider J, Alldredge P, Trinkaus K, Watson MA, Aft R. Gene expression analysis to detect disseminated tumor cells in the bone marrow of triple-negative breast cancer patients predicts metastatic relapse. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2019 Nov;178(2):317-325. doi: 10.1007/s10549-019-05405-7. Epub 2019 Aug 20.PMID: 31432366; PMCID: PMC3797655
Pillai SG, Zhu P, Siddappa CM, Adams DL, Li S, Makarova OV, Amstutz P, Nunley R, Tang CM, Watson MA, Aft RL. (2017) Enrichment and Molecular Analysis of Breast Cancer Disseminated Tumor Cells from Bone Marrow Using Microfiltration. PLoS One.12(1):e0170761.PMID: 28129357; PMCID: PMC5271341.

Lori Scantlan