Donna Hansel, M.D., Ph.D.

Donna Hansel, MD, PhD

  • Professor
  • Director, Anatomic Pathology
  • M.D. - Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
  • Ph.D. - Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
  • Residency Training: Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
  • Board Certifications: Anatomic Pathology
  • Clinical specialty: Urologic Pathology

Research Interests

My lab is interested in identifying high-yield, targetable pathways in advanced bladder cancer, with a strong emphasis on mTOR signaling and novel downstream targets that are involved in cell motility and invasion. Our emphasis is on advanced bladder cancer, which currently has limited therapeutic options when conventional therapy fails. We utilize both in vitro and xenograft model systems to test migration and invasion in bladder cancer. A unique aspect of our laboratory is the use of human bladder cancer specimens – both as primary cultures and ex vivo bladder wall cultures – to understand invasion in a “translationally relevant” context. We have expanded on our mTOR signaling work to identify novel downstream targets of mTORC1 and mTORC2 complexes that influence migration and invasion of bladder cancer cells. We have also evaluated the novel microenvironment of bladder cancer to identify putative mediators of mTOR complex signaling in this model system.

Click here for information on the Hansel lab.

Representative Publications

  1. The investigational Aurora kinase A inhibitor MLN8237 induces defects in cell viability and cell-cycle progression in malignant bladder cancer cells in vitro and in vivo. Zhou N, Singh K, Mir MC, Parker Y, Lindner D, Dreicer R, Ecsedy JA, Zhang Z, Teh BT, Almasan A, Hansel DE. Clin Cancer Res. 2013 Apr 1;19(7):1717-28.
  2. Validation of new AJCC exclusion criteria for subepithelial prostatic stromal invasion from pT4a bladder urothelial carcinoma.Patel AR, Cohn JA, Abd El Latif A, Miocinovic R, Steinberg GD, Paner GP, Hansel DE. J Urol. 2013 Jan;189(1):53-8.
  3. A contemporary update on pathology standards for bladder cancer: transurethral resection and radical cystectomy specimens. Hansel DE, Amin MB, Comperat E, Cote RJ, Knüchel R, Montironi R, Reuter VE, Soloway MS, Umar SA, Van der Kwast TH. Eur Urol. 2013 Feb;63(2):321-32.
  4. The sensitivity of initial transurethral resection or biopsy of bladder tumor(s) for detecting bladder cancer variants on radical cystectomy. Abd El-Latif A, Watts KE, Elson P, Fergany A, Hansel DE. J Urol. 2013 Apr;189(4):1263-7.
  5. Selective immunohistochemical markers to distinguish between metastatic high-grade urothelial carcinoma and primary poorly differentiated invasive squamous cell carcinoma of the lung. Gruver AM, Amin MB, Luthringer DJ, Westfall D, Arora K, Farver CF, Osunkoya AO, McKenney JK, Hansel DE. Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2012
  6. HER2 gene amplification occurs frequently in the micropapillary variant of urothelial carcinoma: analysis by dual-color in situ hybridization. Ching CB, Amin MB, Tubbs RR, Elson P, Platt E, Dreicer R, Fergany A, Hansel DE. Mod Pathol. 2011 Aug;24(8):1111-9.
  7. Comparative gene expression profiling analysis of urothelial carcinoma of the renal pelvis and bladder. Zhang Z, Furge KA, Yang XJ, Teh BT, Hansel DE. BMC Med Genomics. 2010 Dec 15;3:58.
  8. Mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) regulates cellular proliferation and tumor growth in urothelial carcinoma. Hansel DE, Platt E, Orloff M, Harwalker J, Sethu S, Hicks JL, De Marzo A, Steinle RE, Hsi ED, Theodorescu D, Ching CB, Eng C. Am J Pathol. 2010 Jun;176(6):3062-72.
  9. Click here to search for Dr. Hansel's publications


Dr. Donna Hansel was born in Minneapolis, MN, and moved to Florida at the age of 5. She completed her primary and secondary education in South Florida. She subsequently enrolled in the Bachelor of Science degree program in Biology at the Johns Hopkins University, graduating Phi Beta Kappa. During her undergraduate career, Dr. Hansel was actively engaged in numerous academic activities that included laboratory research, with her first presentation at the Society for Neuroscience during her sophomore year. She was accepted into the M.D., Ph.D. Medical Scientist Training Program at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, where she completed her Ph.D. in the Neurosciences, with first author publications in the Journal of Neuroscience and Nature. She was awarded a Multiple Sclerosis Society Fellowship in 2001 to study dorsal root ganglia biology in the Genetics and Pathology Departments at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. She returned to the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine at the end of her fellowship, where she completed her residency in Anatomic Pathology and a genitourinary pathology fellowship in 2006. Dr. Hansel was awarded membership into Alpha Omega Alpha at the completion of her residency.

Dr. Hansel joined the Cleveland Clinic Anatomic Pathology Staff in 2006 as a subspecialty genitourinary pathologist, and was appointed as an Assistant Professor of Anatomic Pathology at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of the Case Western Reserve University, with joint appointments in the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, Genomic Medicine Institute, Taussig Cancer Center, and Glickman Urological and Kidney Institute. Dr. Hansel continued to expand her research focus in bladder cancer, given her passion to develop new diagnostic and therapeutic interventions for patients with this historically understudied disease. Dr. Hansel received funding during this time from the National Institutes of Health and the American Cancer Society to study the role of mTOR complex function in bladder cancer cell invasion, and advanced to the rank of Associate Professor. Dr. Hansel also oversaw the prospective multi-institutional collection of bladder cancer specimens for the Cancer Genome Atlas Project during this time, and continues to support the mission of this enterprise. In 2013, Dr. Hansel was recruited to the University of California at San Diego as a Professor of Pathology with Tenure and Chief of the Division of Anatomic Pathology. She oversees an interdisciplinary research program in bladder cancer that incorporates advanced –OMICs technologies in the analysis of human bladder cancers, identifying cell signaling pathways that may be targets for bladder cancer therapeutics development in the future. Dr. Hansel has also implemented a highly subspecialized Division focus and continues to grow the outstanding group of Anatomic Pathology faculty at this institution. She is honored to be the recipient of the Ramzi S. Cotran Young Investigator Award.

Dr. Hansel has authored over 100 peer-reviewed publications, edited or authored 5 textbooks on urologic pathology and biospecimen repositories, and has participated in more than 50 national or international talks on bladder cancer. She has participated in the Kidney-Urinary tract panel for the 8th Edition of the AJCC Cancer Staging Manual and contributed to the upcoming 4th edition of the WHO Classification of Tumours of the Urinary System and Male Genital Organs. She is currently on the Editorial Board for Advances in Anatomic Pathology and is a section editor for urologic oncology in Archives of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and has mentored over 20 residents, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, while remaining active in clinical service. She remains grateful to all those who have mentored her along her career path, as well as to former and current collaborators - all of whom have challenged her to grow and think in new ways about clinical diagnostics and laboratory research.

Click here to contact me

Page 'Breadcrumb' Navigation:

External Resources: