is Distinguished Senior Scientist, (the highest rank bestowed at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and serves as Senior Advisor to the Laboratory Director on biology. She is Faculty of four Graduate Groups in UC Berkeley: Comparative Biochemistry, Endocrinology, Molecular Toxicology, and Bioengineering (UCSF/UCB joint program). She has challenged several established paradigms, and pioneered he field of tumor microenvironment. Her body of work has provided the foundation for the current recognition of the pivotal role that extracellular matrix (ECM) signaling plays in regulation of gene expression in both normal and malignant cells. Her laboratory pioneered the use of 3D organoids and techniques that allowed her to prove her signature phrase that “after conception, phenotype is dominant over genotype.” Bissell earned her undergraduate degree in chemistry from Harvard College where she received the medal of American Institute of Chemistry. She received her doctorate in microbiology and molecular genetics from Harvard Medical School, won an American Cancer Society fellowship for her postdoctoral studies, and soon after joined LBNL. She was the founding Director of the Cell and Molecular Biology Division and later the Associate Laboratory Director for all Life Sciences at Berkeley Lab where she recruited outstanding scientists and developed a strong program in cell and molecular biology of normal mammary gland and breast cancer.
Bissell has published more than 400 publications and is one of the most sought-after speakers in the field in both U.S. and abroad. She has received numerous honors and awards including U.S. Department of Energy’s E.O. Lawrence Award, AACR’s G.H.A. Clowes Memorial Award, the Pezcoller Foundation-AACR International Award, Susan G. Komen Foundation’s Brinker Award, BCRF Foundation’s Jill Rose Award, Berkeley Lab’s inaugural Lifetime Achievement Prize, American Cancer Society’s Medal of Honor, MD Anderson Cancer Center’s highest honor – the Ernst W. Bertner Award, the Honorary Medal from the Signaling Societies in Germany, ASCB’s highest honor – the E.B. Wilson Medal, and the 2017 AACR Award for Lifetime Achievement in Cancer Research and received the 2019 Weizmann Women & Science Award from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel and the American Philosophical Society (APS) Jonathan E. Rhoads Gold Medal for Distinguished Service to Medicine. Bissell is an inspiring mentor and in her honor, the University of Porto, Portugal established the Mina J. Bissell Medal which is given every three years to a person who has dramatically changed a field. She is the recipient of Honorary Doctorates from Pierre & Marie Curie University in Paris, France and University of Copenhagen in Denmark and from the Elmezzi Graduate School of Molecular Medicine in New York, NY. Bissell is an elected Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), National Academy of Medicine (NAM), American Philosophical Society (APS) as well as the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) and also sits on many national and international scientific boards and continues to engage in full-time research, as well as other scientific activities.