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Message From The Chair

Donna Ferriero, MD, MS

Donna Ferriero, MD, MS

For more than 100 years, our department has distinguished itself in educating the next generation of physicians, delivering excellent clinical care to young patients, and constantly improving treatment options through biomedical research.

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Kevin Shannon, MD

Professor of Pediatrics

American Cancer Society Research Professor

Auerback Distinguished Professor of Molecular Oncology

Director Medical Scientist Training Program

Contact Info

Box 3112

1450 3rd St., Rm. 263

San Francisco, CA 94143

Phone: (415) 476-7932

Fax: (415) 514-4996



  • Williams College, Williamstown, MA, AB, biology, liberal arts, 1976
  • Cornell University, New York, NY, MD, medicine, 1979
  • University of Texas, Southwestern, Dallas, TX, residency, pediatrics, 1982
  • University of California, San Francisco, fellowship, hematology/oncology, 1988


Board Certification

  • Board Certified in Pediatrics
  • Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Sub-Board

Clinical Expertise

  • Leukemia
  • Pediatric hematology


Research Interests

  • Inherited predispositions to leukemia
  • Hyperactive Ras
  • Mouse models of leukemia


UCSF Program Affiliations


Kevin Shannon, MD, the Auerback Distinguished Professor of Molecular Oncology in the Department of Pediatrics, where he leads the Hematopoietic Malignancies Program at the Comprehensive Cancer Center and is director of the UCSF Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP). Dr. Shannon received his MD degree from Cornell University, obtained residency training in pediatrics at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, and completed a fellowship in pediatric hematology/oncology at UCSF. He also served 10 years in the US Navy Medical Corps. Dr. Shannon joined the UCSF faculty in 1992. His research, which focuses on normal and leukemic hematopoiesis, involves interrogating human leukemia specimens and engineering mouse models to investigate the genetic and biochemical mechanisms of aberrant growth and using these novel reagents to discover mechanisms of drug response and resistance. Hyperactive Ras signaling and chromosome 7 deletions in hematologic cancers are focused areas of interest, and he has discovered a number of genes that are mutated in pediatric leukemia and in developmental disorders. Dr. Shannon’s academic honors include membership in the American Association of Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics Award for Excellence in Research, a MERIT Award from the National Cancer Institute, and an American Cancer Society Research Professorship.   


Current Research

Dr. Shannon’s research program is informed by human disease. His laboratory has utilized inherited predispositions to myeloid leukemia and recurring cytogenetic alterations in leukemia cells as entry points to search for genetic lesions that contribute to leukemogenesis.  He and his colleagues model these mutations in the mouse, and use a combination of cell biologic, genetic, and biochemical strategies to uncover proteins and pathways that are crucial for hematopoietic growth control and are undermined in leukemia.  His team is actively engaged in exploiting genetically engineered strains of mice as a tractable experimental system for testing novel therapeutic strategies. This research benefits from the collegial and interactive environment at UCSF and from collaborations with researchers here and around the world.

The Ras pathway in myeloid leukemogenesis.  Dr. Shannon’s team has investigated the association of neurofibromatosis, type 1 (NF1) with childhood leukemia in primary cells and in mice with a targeted disruption at the Nf1 locus. Children with NF1 are predisposed to juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia (JMML) and other myeloid malignancies. Our studies of children with JMML showed that NF1 functions as a tumor suppressor gene that restrains the growth of immature myeloid cells by negatively regulating Ras signaling. We also found that somatic inactivation of Nf1 in hematopoietic cells induces a myeloproliferative disease (MPD) that models JMML and chronic myelomonocytic leukemia (CMML), and have performed biologic and preclinical studies in this strain. They have also used Mx1-Cre strain to activate latentKras and Nras oncogenes in hematopoietic stem cells. These mice also develop myeloid malignancies, and the Shannon laboratory is investigating mechanisms of leukemogenesis at the genetic, cellular, and biochemical levels. In recent experiments, the team injected Nf1, Kras, and Nras mutant mice with the MOL40470LTR retrovirus to identify genes that cooperate with hyperactive Ras signaling in progression to acute leukemia. As described below, they are using these novel systems to investigate genetic determinants of response and resistance to molecularly targeted and conventional anti-cancer drugs. Dr. Shannon and colleagues continue to utilize Nf1, Nras, and Kras mice for mechanistic studies of aberrant signaling networks, to characterize the effects of hyperactive Ras on hematopoietic stem and progenitor cell fates, and to perform preclinical and biologic studies. 


Mechanisms of response and resistance to targeted inhibitors of signaling molecules. Recent therapeutic efforts have focused on inhibiting downstream biochemical targets of mutant Ras such as Raf, MEK, and Akt, and many new compounds are under development or in early phase clinical trials. A general question with respect to anti-Ras therapeutics involves how to interfere with a signal transduction pathway that is integral to many normal cellular functions while achieving an acceptable therapeutic index. Answering this question will require a more complete understanding of how cells remodel signaling networks in response to chronic oncoprotein expression and how these adaptive responses might be exploited therapeutically. Mouse models that recapitulate the mutant RAS alleles found in human cancer are invaluable tools for performing mechanistic and preclinical studies in for several reasons. First, hematopoietic cells are experimentally tractable. There are markers for all of the major differentiated subpopulations and robust in vitro assays for assaying the growth of progenitors. Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and their progeny can be manipulated ex vivo and transplanted between genetically disparate individuals. This experimental flexibility provides the opportunity to generate cohorts of mice that are engrafted with the same primary tumor for conducting preclinical testing and investigating mechanisms of intrinsic and acquired drug resistance. Second, retroviral insertional mutagenesis (RIM) withMOL4070LTR provides a powerful in vivo strategy for performing forward genetic screens in mammalian cancer. In recent “proof of principle” studies, Dr. Shannon’s team treated primary cancers with targeted agents in vivo, isolated drug resistant clones at relapse, and analyzed pairs of sensitive and resistant clones to discover ugenes that underlie “off target” resistance to molecular therapeutics, which is emerging as a major clinical problem in patients treated with kinase inhibitors. This is a major area of ongoing interest for the laboratory.

Chromosome 7 deletions in leukemia.  The leukemias that develop in patients with genetic predispositions such as NF1 and Fanconi anemia or in the context of medical exposure to mutagens frequently show chromosome 7 deletions (monosomy 7) or loss of the long arm del(7q). Major efforts in the lab focus on cloning and characterizing candidate tumor suppressor genes from a commonly deleted interval of chromosome band 7q22, and using chromosome engineering strategies for engineering large segmental deletions in the mouse. 

Recent Publications (PubMed)

Last updated 04-20-2015