David S. Alberts, MD

Director Emeritus, University of Arizona Cancer Center

Regents Professor of Medicine, Pharmacology, Nutritional Science and Public Health

E-Mail Address: 
Phone Number: 
(520) 626-3237
(520) 626-6898
Short Bio: 

Throughout his career, David Alberts, MD, has focused on translational cancer prevention and treatment research. The emphasis of his laboratory-based and clinical research has been on the chemoprevention and treatment of such pervasive and potentially deadly diseases as cancers of the breast, colon, ovary, and skin. He became the UA Cancer Center’s director in 2005 and retired from the position in June 2013.

Under Dr. Alberts’ leadership the extensive research portfolio of The University of Arizona Cancer Center includes more than $60 million in annual research funding, including four large NCI interdisciplinary programs, and two Special Programs of Research Excellence, one in gastrointestinal cancers and one in lymphoma.

Clinically, Dr. Alberts pioneered new treatments for advanced ovarian cancers, including in vitro tumor cell chemosensitivity testing for personalized medicine strategies, intraperitoneal chemotherapy, and maintenance chemotherapy.

Presently, Dr. Alberts helps to coordinate Phase I and II and pharmacokinetic drug studies at The University of Arizona Cancer Center for molecularly-targeted chemopreventive agents. His laboratory research is concentrated on the evaluation of new surrogate endpoint biomarkers for cancer prevention trials with a special focus on precursor lesions for bladder, breast, colon, cervical, endometrial, ovarian, prostate, and skin cancers, using quantitative histopathology (i.e. karyometric) approaches. His NCI funded drug and diagnostics research has resulted in more than two dozen patents and the co-founding of five Arizona pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.

Dr. Alberts has authored or co-authored over 550 peer reviewed publications, more than 100 book chapters and 60 invited articles, and has served as Editor and Co-Editor of eight books (e.g. Fundamentals of Cancer Prevention, Second Edition, Springer Verlag, 2009 and Intraperitoneal Therapy for Ovarian Cancer, Springer Verlag, 2010). He has served on the editorial boards of several peer-reviewed scientific journals including Associate Editor for Cancer Research from 1989-2002. Between 2002 and 2008, he acted as the Co-Editor-in-Chief of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, the leading cancer public health research journal worldwide.

Dr. Alberts is currently Regents Professor of Medicine, Pharmacology, Nutritional Science, and Public Health at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, and Director of the Arizona Cancer Center. During his career, Dr. Alberts has served as an advisor to numerous cancer research foundations and committees, such as Chair of the Oncologic Drug Advisory Committee to the FDA (1984-1986), and was a member of the NCI’s Board of Counselors (to the Division of Cancer Prevention, 1990-1994), the Board of Scientific Advisors (1999-2006), and on the coordinating subcommittee to the Clinical Translational Advisory Committee, NCI (2006-2009).

In June 2001, he was acknowledged by Science to be one of the top three National Institutes of Health-funded clinical researchers in the United States. In 2003, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) recognized his contributions to clinical care in the field of cancer with the Joseph H. Burchenal Clinical Research Award, and in 2004, the American Society for Preventive Oncology gave him its Distinguished Career Award for research excellence. Also in 2004, the AACR awarded Dr. Alberts with its AACR-Cancer Research and Prevention Foundation Award for Excellence in Cancer Prevention Research Worldwide.

Dr. Alberts received his MD in 1966 from University of Virginia School of Medicine. He conducted his internship at the University of Wisconsin, before becoming a Clinical Associate in medical oncology at the National Cancer Institute’s Baltimore Cancer Research Center. Dr. Alberts conducted his internal medicine residency at the University of Minnesota and then served on the faculty of the University of California, San Francisco, for five years and obtained Board certification in Medicine and Medical Oncology in 1973. He joined the University of Arizona College of Medicine in 1975 as an Assistant Professor, where he has served for 38 years.

Clinical Information
Medical Oncologist
Clinical Focus: 

Clinical Practice Sites: 
The University of Arizona Cancer Center - North Campus
Research Information
Research Program: 
4. Cancer Prevention and Control
Member Status: 
Year of Membership Acceptance: 
University of Arizona
College of Medicine
Selected Publications: 

Frank DH, Kimler BF, Fabian CJ, Ranger-Moore, J, Yozwiak M, Bartels HG, Alberts DS, Bartels PH. Digital image analysis of breast epithelial cells collected by random periareolar fine-needle aspirates (RPFNA) from women at high risk for breast cancer taking hormone replacement and the aromatase inhibitor, letrozole, for six months. Breast Cancer Res and Treatment, 115(3) 661-668, 2009.

Bookman MA, Brady MF, McGuire WP, Harper PG, Alberts DS, Friedlander M, Colombo N, Fowler JM, Argenta PA, De Geest K, Mutch DG, Burger RA, Swart AM, Trimble EL, Accario-Winslow C and Roth LM.  Evaluation of new platinum-based treatment regimens in advanced-stage ovarian cancer: A phase III trial of the Gynecoplogic Cancer Intergroup. J Clin Oncol 27: 1419-1425, 2009.

Jacobs, ET, Jurutka, PW, Martinez ME, Alberts DS. Vitamin D, Calcium, and Colorectal Neoplasia: New Insights on Mechanisms of Action. Cancer Prev Res 2 (3): 197-199, 2009.

Tiersten AD, Liu PY, Smith HO, Wilczynski SP, Robinson WR, Markman M, Alberts DS: Phase II evaluation of neoadjuvant chemotherapy and debulking followed by intraperitoneal chemotherapy in women with stage III and IV epithelial ovarian, fallopian tube or primary peritoneal cancer:  A Southwest Oncology Group Study #S-0009  Gynecolog Oncol, 112(3):444-449, 2009.

Vale C, Thomas G, Dinshaw K, Brady MF, Parmar M, Trimble T, Whitney CW, Pras E, Leborgne F, Keys H, Chen H, Roberts KB, Alberts D, Garipagaoglu M, Kantardzic N, Peifel, Punita L, Lanciano RM, Pearcey R, Rose P, Lorvidhaya V, Anders K, Jakobsen M, Onishi H, Tomasevic A, Tierney J, Stewart L:  Reducing uncertainties about the effects of chemoradiation for cervical cancer: a systemic review and meta-analysis of individual patient data from 18 randomized trials. J Clin Oncol, (26) 5802-5812, 2008.

Foote JA, Ranger-Moore JR, Einspahr JG, Saboda K, Kenyon J, Warneke J, Miller RC, Goldman R, Xu MJ, Roe DJ and Alberts DS. Chemoprevention of human actinic keratoses by topical dl-a-tocopherol. Cancer Prev Res, 2: 394-400, 2009.

Hsu C-H, Taylor MG, Long Q, Alberts DS: Analysis of colorectal adenoma recurrence data subject to informative censoring. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev, 18 (3); 712-717. 2009.

Bartels PH, Bartels HG, Alberts DS. Karyometry: correction algorithm for differences in staining. Anal Quant Cytol Histol, 31 (2): 63-73, 2009.

Hostetter GH, Kim SY, Savage S, Gooden GC, Barret M, Zhang J, Lalitamba A, Watanabe A, Einspahr J, Prasad A, Nickloff BJ, Carpten J, Trent J, Alberts D, Bittner M. Random DNA fragmentation allows detection of single-copy, single-exon alterations of copy number by oligonucleotide array CGH in clinical FFPE samples. Nucleic Acids Research. 37 (19)1-12, 2009.

Thompson PA, Wertheim BC, Roe DJ, Ashbeck EL, Jacobs ET, Lance P, Martinez ME, Alberts DS. Gender modifies the effect of ursodeoxycholic acid in a randomized controlled trial in colorectal adenoma patients.  Cancer Prevention Research; 2(12) 1023-1030, 2009.

Bartels P, Yozwiak M, Einspahr J, Saboda K, Liu Y, Brooks C, Bartels H, Alberts DS. Chemopreventive efficacy of topical difluoromethylornithine and/or triamcinolone in the treatment of actinic keratoses analyzed by karyometry. Anal Quant Cytol Histol, 31(6);355-366, 2009.

Thompson PA, Hsu, CH, Green S, Stopeck AT, Johnson K, Alberts DA, Chow HH. Sulindac and sulindac metabolites in nipple aspirate fluid and effect on drug targets in a phase I trial. Can Prev Res, 3(1), 101-107, 2009.

Stratton SP, Alberts DS, Einspahr JG, Sagerman PM, Warneke JA, Curiel CL, Myrdal PB, Karlage KL, Nickoloff BJ, Brooks C, Saboda K, Yozwiak ML, Krutzsch MF, Hu C, Lluia-Prevatt M, Dong Z, Bowden GT and Bartels PH.  A phase 2a study of topical perillyl alcohol cream for chemoprevention of skin cancer. Cancer Prev Res, 3(2) 160-169, 2010.

Tiersten AD, Moon J, Smith HO, Wilczynski SP, Robinson WR, Markman M, Alberts DS. Chemotherapy resistance as a predictor of progression-free survival in ovarian cancer patients treated with neoadjuvant chemotherapy and surgical cytoreduction followed by intraperitoneal chemotherapy: A Southwest Oncology Group Study.  Intl J for Can Res and Treatment, 2009.

Bartels PH, Montironi R, Scarpelli M, Bartels HG, Alberts DS: Knowledge discovery processing and data mining in karyometry. Anal Quant Cytol Histol, 31 (3), 2009.

Krouse R, Alberts DS, Prasad AR, Yozwiak M, Bartels HG, Liu Y and Bartels PH: Progression of skin lesions from normal skin to squamous cell carcinoma. Anal Quant Cytol Histol, 31:17-25, 2009.

Markman M, Liu PY, Moon J, Monk B, Copeland L, Wilczynski S, Alberts D: Impact on survival of 12 versus 3 monthly cycles of paclitaxel (175 mg/m2) administered to patients with advanced ovarian cancer who attained a complete response to primary platinum-paclitaxel: follow-up of a Southwest Oncology Group and Gynecologic Oncology Group Phase 3 Trial. Gyn Oncol, 114(2):195-198, 2009.

Markman M, Moon J, Wilczynski S, Lopez AM, Rowland KM Jr,  Michelin DP, Lanzotti VJ, Anderson GL, Alberts DS. Single agent carboplatin versus carboplatin plus pegylated liposomal doxorubicin in recurrent ovarian cancer: Final survival results of a SWOG (S0200) Phase 3 randomized Trial. Gyn Oncol, In Press, 2009.

Martinez ME, Baron JA, Lieberman DA, Schatzkin A, Lanza L, Winawer SJ, Zauber AG, Jiang R, Ahnen DJ, Bond JH, Church TR, Robertson D, Smith-Warner S, Jacobs ET, Alberts D, Greenberg ER: Advanced colorectal neoplasia diagnosed during surveillance following colonoscopic polypectomy: A pooled analysis. Am J Epidemiol, 169:657-666, 2009.

Thomson CA, Alberts DS. Diet and survival after ovarian cancer: Where are we and what’s next?” J Amer Dietetic Assn, 110: 3, 2010. PMID: 20184986

Martinez ME, Baron JA, Lieberman DA, Schatzkin A, Lanza E, Winawer SJ, Zauber AG, Jiang R, Ahnen DJ, Bond JH, Church TR, Robertson DJ, Smith-Warner, SA, Jacobs ET, Alberts DS, Greenberg ER: A pooled analysis of advanced colorectal neoplasia diagnoses following colonoscopic polypectomy. Gastroenterology, 136(3):832-841, 2009.

Wertheim BC, Martinez ME, Ashbeck EL, Roe DJ, Jacobs ET, Alberts D and Thompson PA. Physical activity as a determinant of fecal bile acid levels. Can Epi, Biom & Prev, 18(5), 1591-1598, 2009.

Hostetter G, Kim S, Savage S, Gooden G, Alla L, Barrett M, Zhang J, Watanabe A, Einspahr J, Alberts D, Prasad A, Nickoloff B, Carpten J, Trent J, Bittner M. Random DNA fragmentation allows detection of single-copy, single-exon alterations of copy number by oligonucleotide array CGH in clinical FFPE samples. Nucleic Acids Res. 2010 Feb;38(2):e9.