University of Nebraska Medical Center

Michael (Tony) A. Hollingsworth, PhD

Hugh & Jane Hunt Chair in Cancer Research, UNMC Eppley Institute for Research in Cancer and Allied Diseases
Associate Director for Basic Research, Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center
Research focus: Pancreatic cancer biochemistry, diagnostics, and treatments (including immunotherapies)


Tony Hollingsworth, PhD

Michael A. (Tony) Hollingsworth, PhD, serves as the Hugh & Jane Hunt Chair in Cancer Research at the UNMC Eppley Institute for Research in Cancer and Allied Diseases. He is associate director for basic research at the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center.

Dr. Hollingsworth served as principal investigator of a SPORE in pancreatic cancer and  principal investigator on a project in the SPORE program directed toward developing and testing vaccines for treating pancreatic cancer. He previously received funding by the National Cancer Institute as prinicipal investigator of a Biomarker Developmental Laboratory (organ focus Pancreas) within the Early Detection Research Network. Biomarker Developmental Laboratories have the responsibility for the development and characterization of new biomarkers or the refinement of existing.

Dr. Hollingsworth also holds courtesy appointments in the UNMC departments of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and Pathology and Microbiology.

  • PhD, Wake Forest University, 1982
  • Postdoc,  Duke University Medical Center
Pancreatic cancer and other diseases of the pancreas, primarily pancreatitis, using  modern techniques of molecular biology, biochemistry, cell biology, and immunology to develop a comprehensive program of investigation into the biology of normal and diseased pancreatic ductal epithelial cells.

The Hollingsworth lab's main projects study complex mucin-like glycoprotein, MUC1, which is believed to play an important role in the normal function of pancreatic ductal epithelia and in the pathogenesis of pancreatic diseases, such as pancreatic adenocarcinoma. We are using the techniques of molecular and cellular biology to examine the regulation of expression and the mechanisms of post-translational processing of MUC1 in tumor cells and other disease conditions as compared to their normal cell counterparts. These studies also provide a paradigm to study basic aspects of the post-translational process (particularly O-glycosylation). We are developing and characterizing new monoclonal antibodies and tumor vaccine reagents for diagnostic and therapeutic uses that target known tumor associated antigens found on mucins. We are also studying the MUC1 promoter.
  • UNMC Scientist Laureate, 2011.
  • UNMC Distinguished Scientist, 2006, 2010
  • Carol Bell Distinguished Scientist Award for leadership in the UNMC Eppley Cancer Center, 2007

Selected Projects

Pancreatic Cancer Detection Consortium (U01 CA210240)

There are two overall goals of this project. The first is to assemble a unique and robust collection of early lesions and blood samples from patients at risk and those with lesions representing early stages of pancreatic cancer, matched sets of tumors and metastasis and control tissues from the same patients, a tissue resource for use in the discovery and validation of biomarkers for early disease. The second goal is to undertake a series of biomarker discovery and prevalidation projects, proposed within this application and by collaborative studies from other investigators that are part of the Pancreatic Cancer Detection Consortium. 

SPORE in Pancreatic Cancer (P50 CA127297), 2008-2020

NCI’s SPOREs (Specialized Programs of Research Excellence) focus on a specific organ site and are designed to enable the rapid and efficient movement of basic scientific findings into clinical settings. The projects in the SPORE focused on translational studies that address basic and clinical issues of importance to improve the outcome of patients with pancreatic cancer, seeking to 1) develop and test novel diagnostic reagents and assays that will improve our ability to detect pancreatic cancer in its early stages; 2) develop and test novel diagnostic strategies including immunotherapy, chemotherapy, and chemoradiation therapy for patients with early and advanced pancreatic cancer, and 3) undertake basic research studies in conjunction with clinical trials that will provide insight at the molecular level into the reasons for success and failure of the different strategies.

All projects in this SPORE used human specimens for translational research directed at reducing the incidence and mortality of pancreatic cancer. In order to provide the necessary specimens, a Pancreas Tumor SPORE Tissue Bank was developed in cooperation with and under the auspices of the UNMC Tissue Procurement Shared Resource.