About Dr. Gendler

Photo of Sandra J Gendler Ph.D.

Dr. Sandra J. Gendler is a graduate of the University of Minnesota (Microbiology and Chemistry, 1966) and the University of Illinois, where she obtained a Masters Degree in Classics in 1973. She returned to science several years later and received a Ph.D. with honors in Biochemistry from the University of Southern California in 1984. She completed her postdoctoral training at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund, London, England, whereupon she was appointed as a research scientist. She held this position for six years and then returned to the United States to take a position as Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Mayo Clinic Scottsdale in 1993. She became a Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in 2000. She is an Adjunct Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of Arizona and an Adjunct Professor at Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute. Dr. Gendler received the Scientist of the Year Award at the 1997 YWCA Tribute to Women. At Mayo, she was twice named as Educator of the Year and in 2004 she was selected as the John A. Kyle Mayo Distinguished Investigator.

Dr. Gendler has served on the Mayo Clinic Arizona Research Committee for 13 years and has also served on the Cancer Committee since 1997. Dr. Gendler has presented lectures both nationally and internationally. She has been a member of numerous NCI and NIH study sections and has organized international workshops on mucins.

Dr. Gendler has two main areas of investigation:

  1. the function of mucins, particularly MUC1, in cancer and
  2. the development of MUC1-based immunotherapy for breast, colorectal and pancreatic cancers.

She has contributed over 120 research articles to the scientific literature. She originally cloned the gene for the MUC1 tumor antigen and she is now translating MUC1-specific therapy into the clinic. Dr. Gendler has received a Department of Defense Breast Cancer Clinical Translational Award, which is funding the clinical trial of a peptide vaccine (MUC1 and HER-2/neu peptides) for breast cancer patients. Dr. Gendler also participates in two Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) programs: the Mayo Clinic Breast Cancer SPORE and the Mayo Clinic Pancreatic SPORE. SPOREs are highly competitive awards from the National Cancer Institute that promote interdisciplinary research and move basic research findings from the laboratory to the clinic. Dr. Gendler has trained more than 50 students and postdoctoral fellows, many of whom are continuing with MUC1-related research.

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