Owens Lab


The Owens lab uses genetic and pharmacologic tools to study BMP function in models of metastasis. Our lab hopes to uncover how diverse populations of cell in distinct niche metastatic microenvironments can be treated by modulating the BMP pathway.

Bone Morphogenetic Proteins (BMP) are members of the Transforming Growth Factor b (TGFb) family of growth factors and cytokines. The actions of BMPs can elicit many cellular transformation in development and disease. BMPs are most widely known for their original discovery at the promotion of bone formation, however they are appreciated as factors that can influence almost every cell type in the body and are frequently dysregulated in diseases such as cancer. BMPs can influence how cancer cell migrate, proliferate, survive and change their fundamental identity to promote or suppress hallmarks of cancer. BMPs are secreted factors that can also exert changes in the surrounding tumor microenvironment. The cells of the tumor microenvironment can be much more than the immune system and specialized sites of metastasis will create unique signaling with BMPs such as when breast or prostate cancers colonize the bone.


Current projects in the lab include: 

  • The role of BMP signaling in tumor induced bone disease.
  • The role of BMP signaling in tumor associated lymphatics.
  • The role of BMP signaling in tumor associated myeloid cells.​

NIH Project Reporter
Selected Publications:


  1. Hover LD, Young CD, Bhola NE, Wilson AJ, Khabele D, Hong CC, Moses HL, Owens P. Small molecule inhibitor of the bone morphogenetic protein pathway DMH1 reduces ovarian cancer cell growth. Cancer Lett. 2015 Jul 30. pii: S0304-3835(15)00487-5. doi:
    10.1016/j.canlet.2015.07.032. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 26235139​
  2. Owens P, Pickup MW, Novitskiy SV, Giltnane JM, Gorska AE, Hopkins CR, Hong CC, Moses HL. Inhibition of BMP signaling suppresses metastasis in mammary cancer. Oncogene. 2015 May 7;34(19):2437-49. doi: 10.1038/onc.2014.189. Epub 2014 Jul 7. PMID: 24998846.
  3. Pickup MW, Hover LD, Polikowsky ER, Novitskiy SV, Gorska AE, Chytil A, Moses HL, Owens P. BMPR2 deletion in mammary fibroblasts promotes tumor growth and metastasis via alternate BMP signaling and cytokine activation.  Mol Oncol 2015 Jan;9(1):179-91. doi:
    10.1016/j.molonc.2014.08.004. Epub 2014 Aug 23. PMID: 25205038
  4. Pickup MW, Novitskiy SV, Chytil A, Gorska AE, Aakre ME, West J, Moses HL, Owens P. Deletion of the BMP receptor BMPR1a impairs mammary tumor formation and metastasis. Oncotarget 2015 June 11, 2015 PMID:26274893

Lab Address: 

University of Colorado Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus

Research Center 1 North, Room 5404J

12800 East 19th Ave

Aurora, CO 80045-0611



Email: Philip.Owens@ucdenver.edu​

Phone: 303-724-3622

Mail Stop: 8104



Philip Owens PhD

Assistant Professor - Bone Morphogenetic Proteins Research
  • Pathology (SOM)

Education, Licensure & Certifications

Education and Training:

  • Basic Medical Specalist (91B/W)-1995 US Army
  • B.S., The Evergreen State College (1999)
  • Ph.D., Cell and Development, Oregon Health Sciences University (2008)
  • Postdoctoral, Vanderbilt Ingram Cancer Center, Vanderbuilt University (2009-2013)