Dr. Owen Witte headshot

Owen N. Witte, M.D. 

Founding Director Emeritus, UCLA Broad Stem Cell Research Center; University Professor, University of California; Presidential Chair in Developmental Immunology; Professor, Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics


Owen Witte, M.D. is the founding director emeritus of the UCLA Broad Stem Cell Research Center. In his 15 year tenure as director of the center, he advocated for science education funding and created strategic partnerships that enabled collaborative and multidisciplinary groups of clinicians, scientists and engineers to pursue breakthrough research with the shared goal of improving human health.

Witte has made significant scientific contributions to the understanding of human leukemias, immune disorders and epithelial cancers.

After graduating from Cornell University and earning his medical degree at Stanford, Witte did his postdoctoral fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with Nobel laureate, David Baltimore.

Witte’s early discovery of the tyrosine kinase activity in the ABL protein and the demonstration of the BCR-ABL oncoproteins in leukemias was one of the preclinical discoveries that led to the development of Gleevec, the first targeted therapy for chronic myelogenous leukemia.

Witte also co-discovered the gene for Bruton's tyrosine kinase, a protein essential for normal B-lymphocyte development that, when mutated, causes the onset of X-linked agammaglobulinemia. This finding influenced the development of targeted drugs like Ibrutinib to treat leukemia and lymphoma.

Witte is now pursuing prostate cancer research, taking several independent approaches to pinpoint specific biologic functions of Castration Resistant Prostate Cancer with the intent to improve survival and reduce side effects for men with this aggressive and deadly disease.

In 2016, Witte was appointed a University Professor by the University of California Board of Regents, an honor reserved for scholars of the highest international distinction.


Honors & Affiliations


  • Kornberg-Berg Lifetime Achievement Award in Biosciences, Stanford Medical School, 2016
  • Award for Distinguished Research in Biomedical Sciences, Association of American Medical Colleges, 2016
  • G.H.A Clowes Memorial Award, American Association for Cancer Research, 2015
  • de Villiers International Achievement Award, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, 2003
  • Warren Alpert Foundation Prize with D Baltimore, A Matter, N Lydon and B Druker, 2000
  • Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Foundation Award, American Association for Cancer Research, 1991

Affiliations and Memberships

  • Appointed Member, President Barack Obama’s President’s Cancer Panel, 2012-2017
  • Elected Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • Elected Member, Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences
  • Elected Member, National Academy of Sciences
  • Elected Fellow, American Academy of Microbiology
  • Elected Fellow, American Association for Cancer Research Academy
  • Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center Cancer and Stem Cell Biology Program
  • American Association of Immunologists
  • American Society for Clinical Investigation
  • American Society of Hematology
  • American Society for Microbiology


Witte’s work is funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Prostate Cancer Foundation, the W.M. Keck Foundation, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine and the UCLA Broad Stem Cell Research Center, including support from the Concern Foundation for Cancer Research, Stanley and Myrna Zimmerman and the S.L. Gimbel Foundation.


Innovations in Life Sciences with Owen Witte
Dr. Owen Witte, director of UCLA's Broad Stem Cell Research Center and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, discusses cutting edge research and new developments in the life sciences.