Andrew J. Ewald, Ph.D.

Headshot of Andrew J. Ewald
  • Director, Department of Cell Biology
  • Professor of Cell Biology


Breast Cancer, Cancer, Fibrosis, Metastatic Disease more

Research Interests

Cellular and molecular mechanisms of epithelial growth, invasion and metastasis; focus on how clusters of cancer cells disseminate from the tumor, traverse the systemic circulation, and cooperate with resident stromal cells to colonize distant organs. more


Dr. Andrew Ewald seeks to understand how cells build organs and how these same cellular processes can contribute to cancer metastasis. Dr. Ewald’s research lab recently identified a unique class of breast cancer cells that lead the process of invasion into surrounding tissues—a first step in cancer metastasis. Further research is planned to examine if these cells are viable targets for therapy.

Dr. Ewald received his undergraduate degree in physics with honors from Haverford College. He earned his Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular physics from the California Institute of Technology. He completed postdoctoral work with Zena Werb in mammary biology and cancer at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Ewald joined the Johns Hopkins faculty in 2008. He is the director of the department of Cell Biology, director of the Giovanis Institute for Translational Cell Biology and holds the Virginia De Acetis Professorship in Basic Cancer Research.

He is a member of the American Association for Cancer Research, Society for Developmental Biology, and the American Society for Cell Biology. His work was recognized with the 2011 Morphological Sciences Award from the American Association of Anatomists for his contributions to the field of epithelial morphogenesis. more


  • Director, Department of Cell Biology
  • Director, Giovanis Institute for Translational Cell Biology
  • Virginia De Acetis Professor in Basic Cancer Research
  • Co-Leader, Cancer Invasion and Metastasis Program (CIM)
  • Professor of Cell Biology
  • Professor of Biomedical Engineering
  • Professor of Oncology

Departments / Divisions

Centers & Institutes



  • Ph.D.; California Institute of Technology (California) (2003)
  • B.S.; Haverford College (Pennsylvania) (1997)

Additional Training

  • University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, 2008, Epithelial Biology and Cancer

Research & Publications

Research Summary

The Ewald Lab seeks to understand how groups of cells cooperate, compete, and interact to organize tissue architecture and function during development and disease progression. Our foundation is understanding of normal organ architecture and development: how are they built during early development and then remodeled during adult life? Our disease focus is on breast cancer and specifically on elucidating the cellular strategies and molecular mechanisms driving metastasis. Metastasis is the multistep process by which cancer cells acquire the ability to leave the primary tumor, travel through the circulation, evade the immune system, and establish new tumors in distant vital organs. More than 90% of cancer deaths are attributable to metastasis across all organ sites. Unfortunately, few approved drugs specifically target the metastatic process and current therapies are insufficiently effective for patients with metastatic cancer.

We recognized that major progress in understanding and treating metastatic cancer would require fundamentally new experimental tools and research ecosystems. We, therefore, developed new approaches that allowed us to culture live tumor tissue in the laboratory. We grow cancer cells in three-dimensional (3D) environments customized to model specific stages in cancer progression, including tumor initiation, tumor growth, cancer invasion, entry into blood vessels, immune evasion, and growth of metastases in distant organs. Recent advances in laboratory automation and image analysis enable us to conduct these experiments at a large scale in a short time period, for example testing the effect of 1,000 drugs on metastasis initiation within a week. We combine cutting-edge microscopy, advanced genetics, next-generation bulk and single-cell sequencing, and bioinformatic analysis to understand how cells accomplish specific steps in metastasis, define the molecular tool-kit they utilize, and identify targets for new anti-metastatic drugs.


The Ewald Lab seeks to elucidate the molecular regulation of collective cell migration during normal mammary development and during the invasion and metastatic spread of mammary tumors. The lab provides interdisciplinary training in both basic and translation aspects of cancer research. Dr. Ewald has an interdisciplinary training history and provides an interdisciplinary training environment.

Dr. Ewald originally trained in solid-state physics, which he then applied in his Ph.D. to develop and apply advanced light microscopy techniques to study the molecular regulation of tissue movements during embryonic development. During his postdoctoral studies, he extended this foundation in developmental biology and microscopy to study the cellular basis of branching morphogenesis in the mammary gland. 

His laboratory works on isolating the molecular regulators of epithelial invasion and dissemination in these 3D assays, using a combination of knockdown and knockout genetics and advanced molecular imaging. Trainees benefit from dual training in epithelial development and epithelial cancer invasion and learn state-of-the-art molecular genetics, 3D organotypic culture, and imaging techniques. Members of the lab range from biomedical engineers through cell and molecular biologists to medical oncology fellows and benefit from collaborations with faculty in Biomedical Engineering, Medical Oncology, Radiation Oncology, and Pathology.

Lab Website: Ewald Lab

Selected Publications

View all on PubMed

Chan IS, Knútsdóttir H, Ramakrishnan G, Padmanaban V, Warrier M, Ramirez JC, Zhang H, Jaffee EM, Bader JS, Ewald AJ, " Cancer cells educate natural killer cells to a metastasis promoting cell state, Journal of Cell Biology, 2020 Sep 7; 219(9) 10.1083/jcb.202001134.

Padmanaban V, Cheung KJ, Ewald AJ*, Bader JS*, Between-tumor and within-tumor heterogeneity in invasive potential," PLoS Computational Biology, 16 (1), e1007464 Jan 2020.

Padmanaban V, Krol I, Suhail Y, Szczerba BM, Aceto N, Bader JS, Ewald AJ, "E-cadherin is required for metastasis in multiple models of breast cancer," Nature. 2019 Sep;573(7774):439-444.

Cheung KJ, Padmanaban VP, Silvestri V, Schipper K, Fairchild AN, Ewald AJ, “Distant metastasis occurs through collective epithelial dissemination,” PNAS, 2016 Feb 16;113(7):E854-63.

Cheung KJ, Gabrielson E, Werb Z, Ewald AJ, “Collective invasion in breast cancer requires a conserved basal epithelial program,” Cell. 2013 Dec 19;155(7):1639-51.

Contact for Research Inquiries

Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
855 N. Wolfe Street
452 Rangos Building
Baltimore, MD 21205 map
Phone: 410-614-9288
Fax: 410-614-8375

Email me

Academic Affiliations & Courses

Graduate Program Affiliation

Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology Graduate Program

Activities & Honors


  • Morphological Sciences Award, American Association of Anatomists, 2011
  • Distinguished Lecturer, Braman Family Breast Cancer Institute, 2010
  • Honors in Physics, Haverford College, 1997
  • National Merit Scholar, 1993
  • Founders Award, METAvivor, 2020 - 2023
  • Investigator, Breast Cancer Research Foundation, 2013 - 2021


  • American Association for Cancer Research
  • American Society for Cell Biology
  • Society for Developmental Biology

Videos & Media

Recent News Articles and Media Coverage

Cancer Matters with Dr. Bill Nelson – Cell Biology With Dr. Andrew Ewald, Podcast Cancer Matters (May 29, 2018)

On Target with Dr. Akila Viswanathan – Cancer Invasion and Metastasis, On Target Podcast (January 28, 2020)

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