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. Hansel obtained her B.A. in Biology from the Johns Hopkins University and her M.D., Ph.D. degree from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine as part of the Medical Scientist Training Program. She subsequently completed a research following in the Genetics and Pathology Departments at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam and completed a residency and genitourinary pathology fellowship at the Johns Hopkins Hospital.

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 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. 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.

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 70 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 was a member of the working group for the 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. She has mentored over 30 residents, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. She is a member of Alpha Omega Alpha and has been recently awarded the Ramzi S. Cotran Young Investigator Award from the United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology. Click here to contact me

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