Michael Press, MD, PhD

EIT Member
Professor of Pathology
Harold E. Lee Chair in Cancer Research

Dr. Michael Press, MD, PhD is an EIT Member, a Professor in the Department of Pathology and holds the Harold E. Lee Chair in Cancer Research at the University of Southern California’s Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Press is a board certified pathologist, directs the USC Breast Cancer Analysis Laboratory as well as the Central Laboratory for the Translational Research In Oncology (TRIO)/Cancer International Research Group (CIRG), and is Leader of the USC Clinical Laboratories.

His laboratory evaluates prognostic and predictive markers used in making treatment decisions for women with breast cancer. It has served as the Central Laboratory for either retrospective or prospective analyses of tissue specimens for 28 clinical trials that collectively accrued more than 13,000 patients. Dr. Press’s area of research interest is in molecular alterations of breast and gynecologic cancers, especially those that have the potential to be important in either diagnostic or therapeutic decision-making for patient management. His research has been continuously funded by research grants for more than 35 years. He is the author or co-author of more than 250 peer-reviewed publications. The most prominent area of activity for his laboratory has been in the study of the human epidermal growth factor receptor type 2 (HER2) in breast and other cancers. He published his first paper in this area in 1989 (Science 244: 707-712, 1989) and his laboratory is still actively contributing to this area as well as to the conduct of clinical trials evaluating HER2 as a target for therapy.

Research Focus

Breast Cancer
Molecular Alterations
Genetic Markers



The University of Chicago-1977


The University of Chicago- 1975 


  • Robert M. Nakamura Memorial Lecture, “HER2 Gene Amplification and Overexpression: Issues related to HER2 Testing and as a Target for Therapy”, Scripps Clinic, La Jolla, CA,   June 21, 2017.
  • “Top Doctors”, Pasadena magazine, 2016 and 2017 (peer nominated and peer-reviewed regional recognition).
  • Jessica M. Berman Senior Investigator Award, 2016-2021, Tower Cancer Research Foundation.
  • Donald L. Morton Award, 2016, given to the authors of the most downloaded article from the Journal of Surgical Oncology in the previous year.
  • William O. Russell Lectureship and Joanne Vandenberge Hill Award, M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, January 29, 2011 (has been given annually since 1977 to a   pathologist who has “demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and who reflects the spirit and leadership of Dr. William Russell, former chairman of the Department of Pathology at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.”)


  • Director, USC Clinical Laboratories Group, 2012 – present
  • Faculty for “Methods in Experimental Pathology Course (PATH 552b)” for graduate students, course coordinator: Robert Ladner / Joe Landolph, 2007-present
  • Faculty for “Introduction to Pathology (INTD 550)” for graduate students, course coordinator: Louis Dubeau, 2005-present 
  • The Harold E. Lee Chair in Cancer Research, 1998-present
  • Professor, Department of Pathology, University of Southern California, 1993 – present
  • Clinical Laboratory Director and Consultant, Breast Cancer Analysis Laboratory, at U.S.C. , 1988-present
  • Surgical Pathologist, Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Los Angeles County + University of Southern California Medical Center, 1988-present
  • Director, USC Breast Cancer Analysis Laboratory, Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, 1988-present

Selected Publications

Slamon DJ, Godolphin W, Jones LA, Holt JA, Wong SG, Keith DE, Levin WJ, Stuart SG, Udove J, Ullrich A, Press MF. Studies of the HER-2/neu proto-oncogene in human breast and ovarian cancer. Science 244: 707-712, 1989 (cover illustration taken from our report)

Press MF, Hung G, Godolphin W, Slamon DJ. Sensitivity of HER-2/neu antibodies in archival tissue samples: Potential source of error in immunohistochemical studies of expression. Cancer Research 54: 2771-2777, 1994.

Press MF, Bernstein L, Thomas PA, Meisner LF, Zhou J-Y, Ma Y, Hung G, Robinson RA, Harris C, El-Naggar A, Slamon DJ, Peyrot M, Ross J, Phillips R, Wolman SR, Flom KJ. HER-2/neu gene amplification by fluorescence in situ hybridization: Poor prognosis in node-negative breast carcinomas. Journal of Clinical Oncology 15: 2894-2904, 1997.

Press MF, Slamon DJ, Flom KJ, Park J, Zhou J-Y, Bernstein L. Evaluation of HER-2/neu Gene Amplification and Overexpression: Comparison of Frequently Used Assay Methods in a Molecularly Characterized Cohort of Breast Cancer Specimens. Journal of Clinical Oncology 20: 3095-3105, 2002.

Sauter G, Lee J, Bartlett JMS, Slamon DJ, Press MF. Guidelines for human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 testing: biologic and methodologic considerations. Journal of Clinical Oncology 27: 1323-1333, 2009.

Press MF, Sauter G, Buyse M, Bernstein L, Guzman R, Santiago A, Villalobos IE, Eiermann W, Pienkowski T, Martin M, Robert N, Crown J, Bee V, Taupin H, Flom KJ, Tabah-Fisch I, Pauletti G, Lindsay MA, Riva A, Slamon DJ. Alteration of topoisomerase II-alpha gene in human breast cancer: Association with responsiveness to anthracycline-based chemotherapy. Journal of Clinical Oncology 29: 859-867, 2011.

Slamon D, Eiermann W, Robert N, Pienkowski T, Martin M, Press MF, Mackey J, Glaspy J, Chan A, Pawliki M, Pinter T, Valero V, Liu M-C, Sauter G, von Minckwitz G, Visco F, Bee V, Buyse M, Bendahmane T, Lindsay M-A, Riva A, Crown J. Adjuvant trastuzumab in HER2-positive breast cancer. New England Journal of Medicine 365: 1273-1283, 2011, PM ID: 21991949

Press MF, Sauter G, Buyse M, Fourmanoir H, Quinaux E, Eiermann W, Robert N, Pienkowski T, Crown J, Martin M, Valero V, Mackey JR, Bee V, Ma Y, Villalobos I, Campeau A, Mirlacher M, Lindsay MA, Slamon DJ. HER2 Gene Amplification Testing by Fluorescence in situ Hybridization (FISH): Comparison of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO)-College of American Pathologists (CAP) Guidelines with FISH Scores used for enrollment in Breast Cancer International Research Group (BCIRG) Clinical Trials. Journal of Clinical Oncology 34 (29): 3518-3528, 2016. DOI: 10.1200/JCO.2016.66.6693

Press MF, Seoane JA, Curtis C, Quinaux E, Guzman R, Sauter G, Eiermann W, Mackey JR, Robert N, Pienkowski T, Crown J, Martin M, Valero V, Bee V, Ma Y, Villalobos I, Slamon DJ. Assessment of ERBB2/HER2 Status in HER2-Equivocal Breast Cancers by FISH and 2013/2014 ASCO-CAP Guidelines. JAMA Oncology 5(3): 366 – 375, 2019. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2018.6012. PM ID: 30520947

Press MF, Xie B, Davenport S, Zhou Y, Guzman R, Nolan GP, O’Brian N, Palazzolo M, Mak T, Slamon DJ. Role for polo-like kinase 4 in cytokinesis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 116 (23): 11309-11318, 2019.