Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Bloomberg School of Public Health
Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, School of Medicine
Ashani Weeraratna is a groundbreaking researcher exploring crucial questions about the role aging plays in cancer. Her findings on age-related differences in responses to both targeted therapy and immunotherapy for cancer are leading to a change in clinical practice.
Weeraratna studies the molecular mechanisms involved in metastasis and how tumor microenvironments affect melanoma progression and therapy resistance. She is interested in how the aging microenvironment guides changes leading to increased metastasis and therapy resistance, as well as cell-autonomous aspects of therapy resistance. Weeraratna’s research also encompasses biophysical changes that affect the ability of both tumor and immune cells to migrate. She has demonstrated that normal age-related changes in the microenvironment can contribute to multiple aspects of melanoma formation and development as well as therapy resistance. Weeraratna’s work in melanoma prevention includes a public health approach. She recently helped lead a campaign to introduce sunblock dispensers throughout Philadelphia and talk to children about the dangers of tanning.
Weeraratna is the author of Is Cancer Inevitable? which clearly describes cancer’s mechanisms and how teams like hers are finding ways to reduce its deadly impacts. It’s also an engaging account of the journey from her formative years in Sri Lanka and Lesotho to her education in the United States, and onward to appointments at elite governmental and academic institutions, where she’s collaborated with an array of brilliant scientists. The book is part of the Johns Hopkins Wavelengths series.
Weeraratna joined Johns Hopkins University as a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor in 2019 from the Wistar Institute.