Lee Ratner, MD, PhD

Lee Ratner, MD, PhD

Alan A. and Edith L. Wolff Professor of Oncology; Section Co-Director – Molecular Oncology

Division of Oncology
Mail Stop 8069-0012-05
Washington University
660 South Euclid Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63110

562 McDonnell Medical Sciences Building (office)

Kim Blasé

Clinical Interests
  • AIDS
  • Oncology
Research Interests
  • Human retrovirology (HIV and HTLV)

I joined Washington University in July of 1985. I graduated from Yale University in 1979 and trained in Internal Medicine at Barnes Hospital. After completing Medical Oncology training at the National Cancer Institute, I worked as a research associate with Drs. Flossie Wong-Staal and Robert Gallo. My laboratory is studying human retrovirus infections.

My basic research is focused on the genetic basis of HTLV-1 lymphomagenic activity. This includes basic molecular biology studies, animal models, and multicenter clinical trials. My interests in HTLV-1 began during postdoctoral studies in 1983, and my independent laboratory has been critical in establishing a strong molecular understanding of the pathogenic effects of this virus over the last 32 yrs. Our studies of HTLV-1 are concerned with analysis of the mechanisms of leukemogenesis through studies of transforming determinants in an infectious immortalizing HTLV-1 proviral clone in culture and humanized mice; and transgenic models utilizing the HTLV-1 trans-activator protein, which results in a lymphoproliferative malignancy; and identification and characterization of the receptor for the virus. We established the first infectious molecular clone of HTLV-1 and the first animal model of HTLV-1-associated leukemia-lymphoma. These tools have been provided to almost every group in the field throughout the world since their discovery, and a number of current innovative variations of these reagents include studies of the pathogenesis of the infectious molecular clone in humanized mice and an inducible transgenic mouse model of HTLV-1 Tax induced lymphoma. The major focus over the last 10 yrs has been deciphering the role of Tax activation of NFκB in lymphoma.

Our studies of HIV-1 focus on two distinct questions: 1) How does viral protein X (Vpx) enhance virus replication in quiescent cells?   2) How does the viral envelope interact with the receptor (CD4) and coreceptor (CXCR4 or CCR5) to allow virus entry? For these studies, we utilize infectious molecular clones of HIV-1 and HIV-2, cell culture and animal studies, small molecule and siRNA inhibitors, as well as viral and cellular cofactor mutants. Information from these studies has been applied to developing novel therapeutic approaches for HTLV-1 and HIV-1 infections. Information from these studies has been applied to developing novel therapeutic approaches for HTLV-1 and HIV-1 infections.

CCR5 graphic

My clinical research is focused on human virus-associated cancers. I participated and/or led clinical trials HIV-associated lymphomas, anal carcinomas, and Kaposi’s sarcoma. I have also led multicenter trials of HTLV-1 associated leukemia/lymphoma.

Comparison of ATLL with Tax Transgenic Mice

I am co-Director of Molecular Oncology with a faculty of 25 individuals. I am PI of the NCI T32 funded Molecular Oncology Training Program, and Associate Director of Cancer Education for the Siteman Cancer Center. I am a former American Cancer Society Research Professor. I mentored 16 graduate students (4 were MD PhD students) who completed their thesis and more than 50 postdoctoral researchers have trained in my laboratory. I sponsored postdoctoral trainees who successfully competed for F32 National Research and K08 Clinical Investigator Awards, and fellowship/scholar grants from the Leukemia Society, Keck Foundation, Lymphoma Research Foundation, American Society for Hematology, American Foundation for AIDS Research, and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.



  • 1979: MD/PhD in Molecular Biochemistry & Biophysics, Yale University, New Haven, CT
  • 1973: BA/MA in Chemistry, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

Post-Graduate Training

  • 1985-1983: Research Staff Fellow (Laboratory of Drs Flossie Wong-Staal and Robert Gallo), National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD
  • 1983-1982: Medical Staff Fellow, Pediatric and Medical Oncology Branches, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD
  • 1982-1979: Intern and Resident in Internal Medicine, Washington University, Barnes Hospital, St. Louis, MO

Academic Positions & Employment

  • present-2018: Associate Director of Education, Siteman Cancer Center
  • present-2003: Director or Co-Director, Section of Molecular Oncology
  • present-1995: Professor of Pathology, Washington University, St. Louis, MO
  • present-1993: Professor of Medicine and Molecular Microbiology, Washington University, St. Louis, MO
  • 2017-2012: Associate Member, BRIGHT Institute (Bridging Research with Imaging, Genomics, and High-Throughput) Integrating Communications with the Cancer Environment
  • 2015-2011: Co-Director, Section of Medical Oncology
  • 1993-1990: Associate Professor of Medicine and Molecular Microbiology, Washington University, St. Louis, MO
  • 1990-1986: Assistant Professor of Molecular Microbiology, Washington University, St. Louis, MO
  • 1990-1985: Assistant Professor of Medicine, Washington University, St. Louis, MO

University Committees

  • present-2021: Siteman Cancer Data Safety Monitoring Committee
  • present-2011: Internal Advisor for Siteman Cancer Center Research Programs in Endometrial, Breast, and Pancreatic Cancers
  • present-2017: Director, Developmental Research Program, Pancreas Spore, Siteman Cancer Center
  • present-2002: Director, Oncology Fellowship Protocol Committee
  • present-2002: Director, Cancer Biology Educational Program
  • 2018-2008: Co-Director, Siteman Cancer Center Solid Tumor Therapeutics Program (formerly Translational and Clinical Research Program)
  • 2010-2007: Washington University School of Medicine Admissions Committee
  • 1998-1993: Steering Committee for Molecular Genetics Graduate Program
  • 1996-1991: Washington University Biosafety Committee
  • 1993-1992: Washington University Animal Biosafety Committee
  • 1992-1989: Washington University AIDS Committee
  • 1992-1989: Washington University Medical School Communicable Disease Council

Board Certification

  • 1985: Medical Oncology
  • 1982: Internal Medicine

National & International Committees

  • present-2017: Member, NCCN Panels for Guidelines for Cancer in HIV-Positive Patients and Kaposi’s Sarcoma
  • present-2015: Leader, Kaposi’s Sarcoma Working Group, AIDS Malignancy Consortium
  • present-2015: Cancer Research Foundation Scientific Advisory Board
  • present-2011: Member, AIDS Malignancy Consortium Steering Committee
  • present-1987: Scientific Advisory Board, American Foundation for AIDS Research
  • present-1983: Ad-hoc or Permanent Member NIH study sections:
    • Program Project Site Visits: UCLA (1983), U Pennsylvania (1987)
    • AIDS Related Research Virology Study Section ARRC, DRG, (Member 1994-1991, Chair 1996-1994)
    • Special NIH Study Section for T32 Grants on AIDS Malignancies
    • Centers for AIDS Research
    • Special NIH Study Section for U54 Grants on AIDS Malignancies (2014)
    • Special NIH Study Section for HIV Eradication (2015, 2014)
    • Special NIH Study Section on HIV & Cancer (2015, Chair 2020, 2019)
    • F99/K00 NIH Study Section (2017)
    • Virology A Study Section (Member 2017-2014, Chair 2019-2017)
  • 2012-2007: Veterans Administration Merit Grant Reviews in Infectious Diseases
  • 2012-2005: European Union Virus-Associated Malignancies Grant Reviews
  • 2003-2000: Co-Chair and Chair, Laboratory Working Group, AIDS Malignancy Consortium
  • 1996-1995: Macrophage Culture SWAT Team, AIDS Clinical Trials Group
  • 1996-1991: Protocol Chairman, AIDS ITP Study, ACTG 087
  • 1995-1990: Member, AIDS Clinical Trials Group Core Oncology Committee
  • 1990-1987 Chairman, AIDS Clinical Trials Group Basic Research Committee

Honors & Awards

  • 2013: Alan A. and Edith L. Wolff Professor of Oncology Chair
  • 2001: Lifetime Achievement Award for Studies of Human T Cell Leukemia Viruses, International Conference on Human Retrovirology, Dublin
  • 1990: American Cancer Society Faculty Research Award
  • 1986: American Society of Clinical Oncology Young Investigator Award
  • 1985: John A. & George L. Hartford Foundation Fellowship Award
  • 1985: Coleman/Fannie Mae Candies Foundation Fellowship Award
  • 1985: American Federation for Clinical Research Trainee Award

Editorial Boards

  • 2012-1995: Journal of Virology
  • 2012-1989: Virology
  • 2008-1988: Journal of the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome
  • 2008-1993: AIDS
  • 2008-1987: AIDS Research & Human Retroviruses
  • 1992-1987: AIDS Targeted Information Newsletter

Professional Societies & Organizations

  • 1997: Association of American Physicians
  • 1997: American Foundation for AIDS Research, Scientific Advisory Board
  • 1995: American College of Physicians, Fellow
  • 1993: International Society for Human Retrovirology
  • 1992: International Society for Antiviral Research
  • 1990: American Society for Clinical Investigation
  • 1990: American Society for Virology
  • 1988: International AIDS Society
  • 1987: American Society of Clinical Oncology
  • 1987: American Society of Hematology
  • 1986: American Association of Cancer Research
  • 1983: American Society for Microbiology
  • 1983: American Federation for Clinical Research