LBNL Mina Bissell Receives Honorary Doctorate from the University of Copenhagen


Dr. Bissell has received honors for pioneering work in postulating and then demonstrating important roles of tissue microenvironments. Prior to her initiatives, cells in tissue culture were constrained to growth in a flat layer, but many distinctive characters of the tissue origin were lacking. Bissell demonstrated that when breast epithelial were freed from the surface, they self organized into organelles which mimicked breast responsiveness in the body. The extra-cellular matrix in which cells are embedded was shown to have strong controlling roles. For cells which by themselves had cancerous behavior, normal growth constrained behavior was imposed upon them when they were embedded in the extra-cellular matrix of normal cells. For these and many related discoveries, Dr. Bissell has won recognition worldwide. Most recently she was one of five recipients of the Doctor Medicinae Honoris Causa from the University of Copenhagen, with Queen Margrethe of Denmark in attendance. Bissell had previously received an honorary doctorate from the Pierre & Marie Curie University in Paris, was earlier this year a recipient of the newly established Discovery Health Channel s Medical Honors, and is a previous winner of the Department s E.O. Lawrence Award (1996). She is the first biologist and the first woman with rank of Distinguished Scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.