Jacqueline A. Lees

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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...

IWF exhibit

Transforming tomorrow today

KI members Susan Hockfield, MIT President Emerita, Sangeeta Bhatia, the John J. and Dorothy Wilson Professor of Health Sciences and Technology & Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and Angela Belcher, the W.M. Keck Professor of Energy, spoke at the International Women's Forum 2015 World Leadership Conference in Boston, MA. Hockfield presented on "Education for All” and was Honorary Co-Chair. Bhatia spoke about Boston as a hub for women innovators and Belcher spoke about a sustainable energy future. Koch Institute staff and trainees rounded out the representation with an interactive exhibit featuring the profiles of fourteen women of the KI and hands-on exploration of KI research. more...

Lees & Weinberg Tackle Unanswered Questions

Jacqueline Lees, associate director of the Koch Institute and professor of biology, and Robert Weinberg, Daniel K. Ludwig Professor for Cancer Research and director of the KI’s Ludwig Center for Molecular Oncology, each tackled a still-unanswered question about cancer biology in the July issue of Scientific American. Lees weighs in on the potential role of inflammation after cancer treatment and surgery in waking up dormant cancer cells, which in turn could interact with nearby normal cells and restart a tumor. According to Lees, the right sequence of drugs could suppress this interaction. When it comes to understanding the mechanisms underlying the metastasis process, Weinberg points out that how cancer cells adapt and survive in a new tissue after leaving the primary tumor site remains unknown. He hypothesizes that this process results from significant changes in gene expression. Inquiries like these help spark the bold new cancer treatment approaches in development at the KI. more...

Role of Bmi1 in Intestinal Development and Tumorigenesis

Jacqueline Lees, Koch Institute, Massachusetts Institute of Technology watch...

Inside the Lab: Jacqueline Lees

Jacqueline Lees

Learn more about the work that Professor Lees and her lab are doing to understand how proteins and pathways are mutated in cancer – and how they hope to make advances in detecting and hopefully treating osteosarcoma. watch...