Mark Watson, MD, PhD

Associate Professor, Pathology & Immunology

Additional Titles

  • Director, NCTN Alliance Biorepositories and Biospecimen Resource
  • Director, Siteman Cancer Cetner Tissue Procurement Core Facility


  • 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.



Pillai SG, Li S, Siddappa CM, Ellis MJ, Watson MA, Aft R. (2018) Identifying biomarkers of breast cancer micrometastatic disease in bone marrow using a patient-derived xenograft mouse model. Breast Cancer Res. PMID: 29291741; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5748947.
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.
Lesurf R, Griffith OL, Griffith M, Hundal J, Trani L, Watson MA, Aft R, Ellis MJ, Ota D, Suman VJ, Meric-Bernstam F, Leitch AM, Boughey JC, Unzeitig G, Buzdar AU, Hunt KK, Mardis ER. Genomic characterization of HER2-positive breast cancer and response to neoadjuvant trastuzumab and chemotherapy-results from the ACOSOG Z1041 (Alliance) trial. (2017) Ann Oncol. 2017 May 1;28(5):1070-1077. PMID: 28453704; PMCID: PMC5790063.
McIntosh LD, Sharma MK, Mulvihill D, Gupta S, Juehne A, George B, Khot SB, Kaushal A, Watson MA, Nagarajan R. (2015) caTissue suite to OpenSpecimen: Developing an extensible, open source, web-based biobanking management system. J Biomed Inform. S1532-0464(15)00188-4. PMID: 26325296.
Pillai SG, Dasgupta N, Siddappa CM, Watson MA, Fleming T, Trinkaus K, Aft R. (2015) Paired-like Homeodomain Transcription factor 2 expression by breast cancer bone marrow disseminated tumor cells is associated with early recurrent disease development. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 153(3):507-17. PMID: 26400846; PMCID: PMC4589549.
Cancer Genome Atlas Research Network. (2014) Comprehensive molecular profiling of lung adenocarcinoma. Nature. 511(7511):543-50. PMID: 25079552; PMCID: PMC4231481.
Siddappa CM, Watson MA, Pillai SG, Trinkaus K, Aft R. (2013) Detection of Disseminated Tumor Cells in the Bone Marrow of Breast Cancer Patients using Multiplex Gene Expression Measurements Identifies New Therapeutic Targets in Patients at High Risk for the Development of Metastatic Disease. Breast Cancer Rest Treat. 137(1):45-56. PMID: 23129172.
Govindan R, Ding L, Griffith M, Subramanian J, Dees ND, Kanchi KL, Maher CA, Fulton R, Fulton L, Wallis J, Chen K, Walker J, McDonald S, Bose R, Ornitz D, Xiong D, You M, Dooling DJ, Watson M, Mardis ER, Wilson RK. (2012) Genomic landscape of non-small cell lung cancer in smokers and never-smokers. Cell. 150(6):1121-34. PMCID: PMC3656590.
Cottrell CE, Al-Kateb H, Bredemeyer AJ, Duncavage EJ, Spencer DH, Abel HJ, Lockwood CM, Hagemann IS, O’Guin SM, Burcea LC, Sawyer CS, Oschwald DM, Stratman JL, Sher DA, Johnson MR, Brown JT, Cliften PF, George B, McIntosh LD, Shrivastava S, Nguyen TT, Payton JE, Watson MA, Crosby SD, Head RD, Mitra RD, Nagarajan R, Kulkarni S, Seibert K, Virgin HW 4th, Milbrandt J, Pfeifer JD. (2014) Validation of a next-generation sequencing assay for clinical molecular oncology. J Mol Diagn. 16(1):89-105. PMID: 24211365; PMCID: PMC5762937.

Lori Scantlan