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Our researchers publish papers in leading scientific journals, receive research grants and are frequently honored by professional organizations. See below for recent samples. For more extensive lists of our members' publications, visit the Meet Our Faculty and Our Programs pages and click on the individuals' names.
April 17, 2019
Led by Senthil K. Muthuswamy, PhD, researchers at the Cancer Center at BIDMC discovered an unexpected relationship between levels of the amino acid leucine and the development of tamoxifen resistance in estrogen-receptor positive breast cancer. The findings, published in Nature, reveal a potential new strategy for overcoming resistance to endocrine drugs in ER+ breast cancer patients.
April 8, 2019
Researchers led by Frank J. Slack, PhD, Director of the HMS Initiative for RNA Medicine at the Cancer Center at BIDMC, identified a new pathway that offers promising targets for preventing lung tumor relapse. Their findings are published in Nature Metabolism.
March 12, 2019
In a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists led by Dipak Panigrahy, MD, of the Cancer Center at BIDMC and Charles N. Serhan, PhD, DSc, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, demonstrate a unique new mechanism by which aspirin inhibits cancer.
March 8, 2019
David Avigan, MD, has been named Chief of the newly created Division of Hematology and Hematologic Malignancies and David F. McDermott, MD, has been named Chief of the newly created Division of Medical Oncology, both part of the Leon V. & Marilyn L. Rosenberg Clinical Cancer Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
Haigis Named Collaborator on Cancer Research UK’s Grand Challenge £20M Prize
Kevin Haigis, PhD, Director, Cancer Genetics Program at the Cancer Research Institute at the Cancer Center at BIDMC, will lend his expertise to a global research team assembled to solve a long-standing riddle in cancer research. The SPECIFICANCER team – comprised of experts from the United States, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands – was one of three awarded funding through Cancer Research UK’s Grand Challenge competition, an international funding initiative.
Led by Principal Investigator Stephen Elledge, PhD, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Haigis and collaborators seek to understand why and how potentially cancer-causing mutations, which exist in every cell throughout the body, cause cancer only in specific tissues. For example, defects in the tumor suppressing APC gene can result in a rare inherited form of colon cancer, but does not induce tumors in any other tissues. Haigis and colleagues will study why this is the case and use their findings to identify ways to prevent or treat cancer in these organs.
The Cancer Research UK’s Grand Challenge competition awards five-year, £20 million (approximately $25 million) prizes to international, multidisciplinary research teams seeking to revolutionize our understanding of cancer and make big strides toward better treatments and new ways to prevent and diagnose the disease.
In addition to funding from Cancer Research UK—the world's leading independent charity dedicated to cancer research—the team’s project is also supported by The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research, a New York-based nonprofit dedicated to accelerating cures for cancer by integrating discoveries in biology with innovative technology.
Pier Paolo Pandolfi, MD, PhD, Part of International Research Consortium Awarded $9.2 Million to Develop microRNA-targeted Therapy
January 24, 2019
Pier Paolo Pandolfi, MD, PhD, Director of the Cancer Center and Cancer Research Institute at BIDMC, is part of an international research consortium awarded $9.2 million from the Novo Nordisk Foundation’s Challenge 2018 Programme. Known as the NASH Research Consortium, the team will use the funds in a combined effort to develop new therapies for the treatment of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), a severe form of liver disease that is rapidly becoming the leading cause of end-stage liver disease, liver transplantation and some forms of liver cancer.
“There are no medical treatments yet for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and microRNA-targeted drugs have the potential to become the first treatment option for patients with NASH,” said Pandolfi. “We’re very grateful to the Novo Nordisk Foundation for supporting this potentially life-changing science.”
Combining the scientific expertise and resources of four leading research institutions to tackle NASH, the Consortium is led by Sakari Kauppinen, PhD, from the Center for RNA Medicine, Aalborg University in Denmark. In addition to Pandolfi, the team also includes Anders Naar, of University of California, Berkeley, and Ryan Temel of the University of Kentucky, Lexington.
Pandolfi and colleagues will evaluate the metabolic microRNAs – short strands of non-coding genetic material that regulate gene expression and play a critical role in diseases – present in samples taken from patients to assess the molecules’ potential as biomarkers for the disease. The team will also work to discover drugs for the effective and safe inhibition of these microRNAs as potential as treatment for NASH .
Carmelo Nucera, MD, PhD, Primary Investigator in the thyroid cancer research program in Department of Pathology at BIDMC, was presented with the 2018 Van Meter Award by the American Thyroid Association (ATA). The award recognizes outstanding contributions to research on the thyroid gland or related subjects by an investigator who is age 45 or under.
Pier Paolo Pandolfi, MD, PhD, Director of the Cancer Center and Cancer Research Institute, was elected to the fellowship of the Royal College of Physicians of London. Fellows are elected based on the endorsement of both national and international fellows who wish to recognize contributions to medicine.
Lowell Schnipper, MD, Emeritus Clinical Director of the Cancer Center at BIDMC, received the Massachusetts Society of Clinical Oncologists Oncologist of the Year Award. Schnipper is recognized for his research and innovations that has had a transforming and lasting impact in areas cancer research, clinical trials, patient advocacy activities, and outstanding long-term service to the field of oncology.
Steven Balk, MD, David Avigan, MD, and David Einstein, MD, of BIDMC’s Division of Hematology/Oncology, were given the Stewart J. Rahr Foundation-PCF Challenge Award of $1 million presented by The Prostate Cancer Foundation. Project teams consist of highly experienced investigators capable of providing unique scientific expertise to the solution of a significant problem in prostate cancer research. The team will conduct experimental studies and clinical trials to identify and validate biomarkers that classify prostate cancer patients most likely to respond to checkpoint immunotherapy.
October 31, 2018
The 11th Annual BIDMC Standard of Cure Cancer Symposium, presented by the Cancer Center at BIDMC, captured a new attendance record with more than 600 attendees coming together to learn about the latest in the targeted therapy and immunotherapy cancer research revolution.
October 31, 2018
Padmanee Sharma, MD, PhD, of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, was recognized for her significant contributions to the field of immuno-oncology with the Pandolfi Award for Women in Cancer Research at the 11th Annual BIDMC Cancer Symposium sponsored by the Cancer Center at BIDMC.
September 17, 2018
The Cancer Center at BIDMC announced the opening of the Randi and Brian Schwartz Family Cancer Immunotherapy and Cell Manipulation Facility. The state-of-the-art laboratory expands BIDMC’s research capacity with the ultimate goal of accelerating the delivery of new immunotherapies to patients with cancer.
August 9, 2018
Led by Kun Ping Lu, MD, PhD, and Xiao Zhen Zhou, MD, investigators at the Cancer Research Institute at BIDMC discovered a previously unrecognized mechanism by which arsenic trioxide (ATO) and all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) work together to combat cancer in human breast cancer cells. In earlier studies, researchers including Pier Paolo Pandolfi, MD, PhD, Director of the Cancer Center and Cancer Research Institute, demonstrated that ATO used in combination with ATRA was effective against acute promyelocytic leukemia. The team is hopeful that the discovery, published in Nature Communications, could lead to new treatment strategies for diverse types of cancer.
May 3, 2018
The Cancer Center at BIDMC announced the launch of a new clinical and research institute that will build on BIDMC’s long history of leadership in immunotherapy and cell therapeutics. Under the leadership of Co-Directors David Avigan, MD, and David McDermott, MD, and Deputy Director Jacalyn Rosenblatt, MD, the Immunotherapy Institute will harness the potential of immunotherapy as it revolutionizes the way cancer and ultimately other diseases are treated and diagnosed. “The Immunotherapy Institute will help us not only improve upon the standard of care, but reach our goal of the ‘Standard of Cure’ in cancer care and research,” said Pier Paolo Pandolfi, MD, PhD, Director of the Cancer Center and Cancer Research Institute at BIDMC.
April 19, 2018
An international team of researchers used a CRISPR activation screen to identify both coding and non-coding pathways involved in acquired resistance to cytarabine, the main treatment for acute myeloid leukemia. The study – led by Pier Paolo Pandolfi, MD, PhD, Director of the Cancer Center and Cancer Research Institute at BIDMC – was published in the journal Cell.
January 15, 2018
In a set of papers in the journals Nature Genetics and Nature Communications, researchers at the Cancer Center at BIDMC shed new light on the genetic mechanisms that promote metastasis in the mouse model and also implicated the typical Western high-fat diet as a key environmental factor driving metastasis. The study – led by senior author Pier Paolo Pandolfi, MD, PhD, Director of the Cancer Center and Cancer Research Institute at BIDMC, and first author Ming Chen, PhD, a research fellow in the Pandolfi’s laboratory – could result in more accurate and predictive mouse models for metastatic prostate cancer, which in turn could accelerate discovery of better therapies for the disease.
The Cancer Center and the Department of Pathology at BIDMC opened a state-of-the-art facility dedicated to the study of non-coding RNAs (ncRNA). The Non-Coding RNA Precision Diagnostics and Therapeutics Core Facility will help accelerate the discovery and translation of ncRNA diagnostics and therapeutics, with the hope of leading to better cures and treatments for disease.
Researchers led by Pier Paolo Pandolfi, MD, PhD, Director of the Cancer Center and Cancer Research Institute at BIDMC, demonstrated that genetic variations driving prostate cancer determine the composition of the immune cells that infiltrate primary prostate tumors. These immune cells, in turn, dictate tumor progression and response to treatment. The data, published in Nature Medicine, suggest that profiling patients’ tumors based on this new information could lead to more successful clinical trials and tailored therapies for patients.
Newly Discovered Vulnerability in Breast Tumor Cells Points to Novel Treatment Approach Against Cancer
April 18, 2016 (Nature Cell Biology)
Cancer cells often devise ways to survive even in the presence of toxic chemotherapy. Now, a research team led by investigators at BIDMC has found a way to attack a process that tumor cells use to escape the effects of standard cancer drugs...
Many targeted therapies in development act on the PI3K/AKT pathway, one of the most frequently aberrantly activated signaling pathways in human cancer cells. The pathway is involved in both tumor development and progression. In their new research, BIDMC’s Alex Toker, PhD (right), Harvard Medical School (HMS) student Evan Lien and colleagues found that in breast cancer cells, abnormal signaling through the PI3K/AKT pathway drives the production of glutathione, a major cellular antioxidant.
New Study Implicates Unusual Class of Circular RNAs in Cancer
March 31, 2016 (Cell)
Cancer cells are notorious for their genomes gone haywire, often yielding fusion proteins — mash-ups of two disparate genes that, once united, assume new and harmful capabilities. Exactly how such genome scrambling impacts RNA, particularly the vast and mysterious world of non-coding RNA, has been largely unexplored. Now, a team led by investigators at BIDMC offers some early answers by studying an intriguing class of non-coding RNAs known as circular RNAs.
“Cancer is essentially a disease of mutated or broken genes, so that motivated us to examine whether circular RNAs, like proteins, can be affected by these chromosomal breaks,” said senior author Pier Paolo Pandolfi, MD, PhD (right) , Director of the Cancer Center at BIDMC and George C. Reisman Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.
BIDMC Researchers Discover Early Indicators of Pancreatic Cancer
March 28, 2016 (Oncotarget)
Pancreatic cancer, the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States, is often diagnosed at a late stage, when curative treatment is no longer possible. A team led by investigators at BIDMC has now identified and validated an accurate 5-gene classifier for discriminating early pancreatic cancer from non-malignant tissue. The finding is a promising advance in the fight against this typically fatal disease.
“Pancreatic cancer is a devastating disease with a death rate close to the incidence rate,” said co-senior author Towia Libermann, PhD (right, shown with first author Manoj Bhasin, PhD), Director of the Genomics, Proteomics, Bioinformatics and Systems Biology Center at BIDMC and Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School (HMS).
New Model of Human Papillary Thyroid Carcinoma Provides Clues to Drug Resistance
February 28, 2016 (Oncotarget)
A scientific team led by investigators at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) has developed new experimental models to evaluate targeted therapies for the treatment of papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC). PTC is the most common type of thyroid cancer, and incidence of the disease is increasing worldwide. The team’s findings, published online in the open-access journal Oncotarget, suggest that combination therapy might offer a new therapeutic strategy for metastatic PTC, were.
“Molecular analysis of this cancer shows that nearly 60 percent of PTC cases contain a mutation called BRAF-V600E,” explained senior author Carmelo Nucera, MD, PhD (right), an investigator in the Department of Pathology at BIDMC. “This mutation increases the cancer’s ability to metastasize, or spread to other organs.”
New Insights into PI3K Pathway and Cancer Metabolism
January 28, 2016 (Cell)
PI3K (phosphoinositide 3-kinase) is a cell-signaling molecule that has now been implicated in a large number of women’s cancers including breast, ovarian and endometrial cancers. New research led by a scientific team at BIDMC provides important insights into the biology underlying PI3K’s The new findings confirm the importance of sugar to cancer cell survival and provide essential new information for the development of PI3K inhibitor drugs as targeted cancer therapies.
“This study demonstrates that PI3K is a master regulator integrating a cancer cell’s architecture and its metabolism,” says corresponding author Gerburg Wulf, MD (right, with first author Hai Hu, PhD), an oncologist in the Cancer Center at BIDMC and Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.