Dr. Wahl obtained a B.A. in Bacteriology from the University of California, Los Angeles, his PhD in Biological Chemistry from Harvard University, and was a a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University. He joined The Salk Institute and became Professor in the Gene Expression Laboratory in 1989.
His research focuses on two important problems related to cancer biology. The first concerns the p53 signal transduction pathway that ensures the control of genetic stability in normal cells and is invariably disrupted during cancer progression. An important objective of this work involves development of therapeutic strategies based on selective killing of cancers encoding wild type p53. A second project involves determining relationships between the “state of stemness” and cancer. This project has identified, isolated, and characterized the stem cells generated in the embryonic mammary rudiment to determine whether such cells share properties with stem-like cells in breast cancer. This type of approach also has significant therapeutic potential. Dr. Wahl has published more than 150 articles and reviews related to genetic instability, p53 functions, the control of DNA replication, and the stem cell state and cancer. His lab has developed many technologies in wide use in molecular and cellular biology. He is a Fellow of the AAAS, was appointed as a Susan G. Komen Scholar, and served as President of the American Association for Cancer Research.