Q&A with Jason Weber, Professor, WUSM, Oncology

Jason Weber is a professor at WashU School of Medicine, specializing in oncology. The goal of his laboratory is to understand the basic mechanisms behind tumor cell growth and proliferation. He has a broad background in molecular and cellular biology with an emphasis on tumor cell biology. He has recently expanded his research to understand the processes of cell growth signaling, ribosome biogenesis and mRNA translation in breast cancer.

He also teaches several courses including Bio 4715: Basic Cancer Biology, Bio 4716: Advanced Cancer Biology and Bio 4582 The Essential of Biomedical Scientific Reviewing, Writing and Presenting.

Dr. Weber spent most of his childhood in Edwardsville, IL, just across the river. He received a B.S. in Biotechnology from Bradley University and a PhD in Cell & Molecular Biology from Saint Louis University, followed by postdoctoral training at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

When he is not working or teaching, he loves spending time with his family. He and his wife are almost empty nesters, with two kids in college and one in high school, so they are starting to make bucket list vacations for just the two of them. He is also an avid reef aquarium enthusiast, and encourages people to stop by his office to check out the corals and fish!

Q&A with Jason Weber

Q: Was there an early life experience that sparked your interest in medicine and pointed you in the direction that led you where you are today?

A: I really had two influential moments in my life that showed me my path in the biological sciences. The first one came when I was a high school student. I was interested in science, but I had no idea what I wanted to do or study in college. My dad brought home a Scientific American magazine for me. He thought I might be interested in one of the articles inside that talked about the new field of genetic engineering and the ability to manipulate DNA in cells. I was hooked. The second moment came when I was a student in college. I was doing poorly in my physical chemistry class. I went to see the professor during open office hours to get help. Instead of helping me, he insisted that I would never have a successful career in science. That memory is etched in my mind and I revisit that moment whenever things get tough at work. It has always helped me push through the toughest of times.

Q: Was there something that attracted you to the Wash U community specifically?

A: I was amazed at the collegial environment and the willingness of the faculty to help make sure that everyone was successful. The interactions were genuine, and it was somewhere that I felt I would immediately fit in.

Q: Do you find it difficult to balance teaching, research, and the work you do treating patients?

A: The balance of research and teaching is a natural one; they go hand-in-hand. As a senior faculty member, my days of personal time at bench research are long gone. The biggest advantage of this transition is that I get to spend much of my time with the members of my lab or students in my classes (including medical, graduate, undergraduate, and high school students). I always look forward to listening to their ideas and watching them solve biological problems.

Q: The Basic and Advanced Cancer Biology courses will now be offered through the Biology Department and count toward the bio major. Is there anything more in-depth you want undergrads to know about these courses?

A: The courses are geared towards students that want to learn a ton of information while also enjoying the topic. My teaching style provides students with a more holistic approach in how they learn the didactic material by providing them with numerous outside sources to complement my lectures. This gives the subject of cancer biology more real life meaning and aides in the retention of the course material.

To learn more about Jason Weber and his research, visit his website here.