Marlys H Witte, MD

Professor, Surgery
Email Address: 
Phone Number: 
(520) 626-6118
Professional Bio: 

As Professor of Surgery and Director of Student Research, University of Arizona College of Medicine, and Secretary-General of the 42-nation International Society of Lymphology, Dr. Witte is engaged in intense activities in clinical and basic lymphology – the study of lymphatics, lymph, lymphocytes, and lymph nodes in health and disease.

Her translational interests and contributions have ranged from blood/lymphatic vascular endothelial cell biology and pathobiology in vitro and in vivo, hepatosplanchnic lymphatic/microcirculatory physiology, small animal models, in vivo lymphatic imaging, thoracic duct lymph drainage, lymphogenous cancer spread, and genomics/proteomics of lymphedema-angiodysplasia syndromes in man, mice, and other animal models, including defects, deficiency, and overexpression of lymphangiogenesis genes VEGFR3 and FOXC2 (human) and Vegfc, Angiopoietin 2, and prox-1 (mouse) and their syndromic/phenotypic manifestations.

Collaborative research has touched upon HIV encephalopathy, blood-brain barrier, CNS fluid dynamics, and ocular development/ disorders. She continues to work with a variety of infectious diseases and immune disorders (e.g., AIDS, Kaposi sarcoma, tuberculosis, Whipple disease, inflammatory bowel disease, congenital/hereditary lymphatic system syndromes, opportunistic infections/neoplasms) and direct an internationally recognized Lymphedema-Angiodysplasia clinic.

Author of more than 400 peer-reviewed publications, recipient of numerous international honors and the UA College of Medicine's Gold-Headed Cane, Founders Day, and Virginia Furrow Education and Innovation Awards, Dr. Witte has received continuous funding from NIH (as well as other government, AMA, and non-profit agency grants) since she was a medical resident. 

Dr. Witte has also served as Program Director of UA’s only NIH General Clinical Research Center (GCRC) and is a member of the UA Arizona Comprehensive Cancer Center, Sarver Heart Center, and Viper Institute and have mentored hundreds of students supported by a continuous sequence of NIH multi-institute training grants she has acquired since 1982, with a special interest in teaching "medical ignorance" – "what we know we don't know, don't know we don't know, and think we know but don't".

Research Information

Research Program: 
Cancer Prevention and Control
Selected Publications: 
  1. Witte MH, AE Dumont, WR Cole, CL Witte, K Kintner: Lymph circulation in hepatic cirrhosis: Effect of portacaval shunt. Ann. Intern. Med. 70:303-310, 1969.
  2. Witte MH, AE Dumont, RH Clauss, B Rader, N Levine, ES Breed: Lymph circulation in congestive heart failure: Effect of external thoracic duct drainage. Circulation 39:723-733, 1969.
  3. Witte MH, CL Witte, AE Dumont: Progress in liver disease: Physiologic factors involved in the causation of cirrhotic ascites. Gastroenterology 61:742-750, 1971.
  4. Witte MH, CL Witte, AE Dumont: Estimated net transcapillary water and protein flux in the liver and intestine of patients with portal hypertension from hepatic cirrhosis. Gastroenterology 80:265-272, 1981. (Cited in Shepherds's text on Physiology of the Intestinal Circulation as a landmark article.)
  5. Gale, N, G Thurston, SF Hackett, R Renard, Q Wang, J McClain, C Martin, C Witte, M Witte, C Suri, P Campochiaro, S Wiegand, G Yancopoulos: Angiopoietin-2 is required for postnatal angiogenesis and lymphatic patterning, and only the latter is rescued by angiopoietin-1. Developmental Cell 3:411-423, 2002. (cover photo and accompanying editorial). PMID:12361603
  6. Dellinger, M, R Hunter, M Bernas, N Gale, G Yancopoulos, R Erickson, M Witte: Defective remodeling and maturation of the lymphatic vasculature in Angiopoietin-2 deficient mice. Developmental Biology 319:309-320, 2008. PMCID: PMC2536689
  7. Kanady, JD, MT Dellinger, SJ Munger, MH Witte, AM Simon: Connexin37 and Connexin43 deficiencies in mice disrupt lymphatic valve development and result in lymphatic disorders including lymphedema and chylothorax. Developmental Biology 354: 253-266, 2011. PMID:21515254
  8. Witte, M, MT Dellinger, CM Papendieck, F Boccardo: Overlapping biomarkers, pathways, processes and syndromes in lymphatic development, growth and neoplasia. Clin Exp Metastasis 29(7):707-727, 2012. COI 10.1077/s10585-012-9493-1 published online prior to print publication.
  9. McNeill GC, MH Witte, CL Witte, WH Williams, J Hall, DD Patton, GD Pond, J Woolfenden: Whole-body lymphangioscintigraphy: The preferred method for the initial assessment of the peripheral lymphatic system. Radiology 172:495-502, 1989.
  10. Witte CL, MH Witte, EC Unger, WH Williams, MJ Bernas, GC McNeill, A Stazzone: Advances in imaging of lymph flow disorders. RadioGraphics 20:1697-1719, 2000.
  11. Witte, M, P Crown, M Bernas, F Garcia: “Ignoramics” in medical and pre-medical education. J. Inv. Med. 56: 897-901, 2008.

Professional Information

Positions and Honors: 
1987-present    Secretary-General, International Society of Lymphology; Editor, Lymphology, 2003-
1987-present    Director, NIH Minority/Disadvantaged High School Student /K-12 Science Teacher Program, Medical Ignorance Collaboratory 2000-06, Virtual CRC/Medical Ignorance Exploratorium; 2006-2012 NIH NCRR SEPA/ARRA; Translating Translation and Scientific Questioning/curiosityforall.org; 2012-2018, NIH OD SEPA, NIAID, NINDS, NICHD
1981-present    Director, Medical Student Research Program (MSRP), U AZ
1972-81    Director, NIH General Clinical Research Center (CRC) in Surgery, AZ Hlth Sci Center
1969-present    Asst Prof (1969-72); Assoc Prof (1972-77); Full Prof (1977-present), UA Dept. of Surgery, Attending physician UA Health Network; 2015 Banner Medical Center-Tucson/UA Main Campus
1967-68    Head, ER & Admitting Department, St. Louis City Hospital
1966-70    Instructor/Res. Asst Prof, Depts of Medicine/Cardiology/Surgery, Washington Univ. St. Louis
1960-61, 1962-65   Intern, UNC Memorial Hospital-Chapel Hill; Resident; Teaching Assistant/Tutor/Instructor, NYU Bellevue Hospital, Departments of Medicine

Academic Information

Medical School: 
New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY
Undergraduate School: 
BA, Zoology, Barnard College, New York, NY