In the News

Tackling a Global Challenge

With no regard for political boundaries, cancer is an issue of international import and all countries have a stake in defeating the disease. At the 2016 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland Paula Hammond, the David H. Koch Professor in Engineering and recently-appointed head of MIT's Department of Chemical Engineering, joined Vice President Joe Biden and a panel of experts from around the world to discuss the future of cancer research and the Vice President’s call for a “moonshot” to find a cure. Hammond spoke about the massive strides being made in the field and the transformative potential of interdisciplinary approaches to research. Following the event, she joined Tom Ashbrook of WBUR’s On Point to recap the meeting with the Vice President. Listen here more...

Unexpected results concerning melanoma metastasis and drug resistance

A regulator of gene expression, Bmi1, is known to promote cellular proliferation due to its control of cell cycle genes. However, researchers in the laboratory of KI faculty member Jacqueline Lees have found an unexpected role for Bmi1 in melanoma where it does not drive proliferation. Instead, the authors of the study published in the journal Genes & Development find that Bmi1 supports melanoma metastasis by turning on genes that help melanoma cells invade through tissues and survive new environments. Moreover, they find that melanomas with high Bmi1 levels are resistant to BRAF inhibitors--a common melanoma drug as the BRAF gene is activated in 50% of skin melanomas. Read more...

Susan Hockfield named president-elect of AAAS

MIT President Emerita Susan Hockfield has been a long-time supporter of making the scientific enterprise accessible and relevant to the public. Building on her strong career history of advocacy and research, Hockfield has now been chosen to serve as the president-elect American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). She joins the Executive Committee of the AAAS Board of Directors on February, 16 and will retain the role of president-elect for one year, followed by a term as president in 2017 and a term as chair of the AAAS Board of Directors in 2018. Read more...

Once more unto the bridge

KI member and Bridge Project researcher Elazer Edelman is a cardiologist who engineers cancer solutions. He is also one of the leaders on a multi-institutional research team studying how cancer cells circulating in the bloodstream construct tiny “bridges” on blood vessel walls through which they inject genetic material into the surroundings, making them more hospitable to cancer cells. The study, published in Nature Communications, describes how these nanobridges contribute to metastasis and suggests new therapeutic targets to halt this process. Read more...

'Tis the season to be jolly good fellows

Angela Belcher, Sangeeta Bhatia, and Bob Horvitz are among four MIT faculty newly elected to the National Academy of Inventors (NAI). They are honored for their ‘highly prolific spirit of innovation in creating inventions that have made a tangible impact on the quality of life, economic development, and the welfare of society’. They join previously elected NAI fellows, KI members Robert Langer, Ram Sasisekharan and Elazer Edelman. Belcher, Bhatia, and Horvitz will be inducted on April 15, 2016, at the Fellows Induction Ceremony at the United States Patent and Trademark Office in Alexandria, Virginia. The NAI Fellows Program currently has 414 Fellows worldwide, representing more than 150 prestigious universities and governmental and non-profit research institutions. The NAI Fellows have collectively issued nearly 14,000 U.S. patents. more...

KI innovators among top global thinkers

No more pills? No syringes? Michael Cima, the David H. Koch Professor of Engineering, and Robert Langer, the David H. Koch Institute Professor, have been recognized as top Innovators in the Foreign Policy's Top 100 Global Thinkers list for 2015 for their pioneering microchip technology. These devices can be embedded under the skin and programmed to release drugs on a schedule or via remote control, eliminaing user error in patient care. more...

What do Langer and Edison have in common?

Fox News Sunday recently had the bright idea to declare KI faculty member Robert Langer their Power Player of the Week for the week of December 13, 2015. The resulting online feature included an interview, a visit to Langer's Koch Institute laboratory, and a well-earned title as a modern-day Thomas Edison. No wonder the lights are always on in the Langer Lab! more...

KI researcher wins TED fellowship

Laura Indolfi, a biomedical entrepreneur and research associate in the laboratory of KI member Elazer Edelman, has been selected as a TED Fellow, joining a class of 21 change-makers from around the world who will share their ideas worth spreading from the TED stage this February in Vancouver. Dr. Indolfi's research is mainly focused in the areas of drug delivery and cell therapy for cancer treatment and regenerative medicine; she is a 2012 Koch Institute Image Awards winner and a co-founder of PanTher Therapeutics, a local start-up aiming to enhance chemotherapeutic efficacy, improve quality of life, and provide cost-effective management of health care in the treatment of pancreatic cancer. more...

SQZ named Roche's new squeeze

SQZ Biotech recently announced a cancer-fighting partnership with pharmaceutical firm Roche. Headed by Koch Institute visiting scientist and former postdoc Armon Sharei, SQZ also counts several Koch Institute members among its Boards of Directors (Robert Langer) and Scientific Advisors (Tyler Jacks, Darrell Irvine, and Christopher Love). SQZ uses a device invented by Sharei, called CellSqueeze, to engineer cell-based therapies for disease, most notably B cell-driven immunotherapies for a broad range of cancers. Earlier this year, SQZ was named one of FierceBiotech's 2015 Fierce 15, and the CellSqueeze device was named one of Scientific American's top ten world-changing ideas of 2014. Development of SQZ's B cells was initially supported by the Koch Institute Frontier Research Program through the Kathy and Curt Marble Cancer Research Fund. more...

A pulse on progress

Langer Lab researchers, in partnership with MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory, have created an ingestible sensor to track heart and breathing rates. Lead author Giovanni Traverso, also a gastroenterologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, explains that such a device could one day be used for coordinated detection and drug delivery to diagnose and treat various medical conditions. more...