Tiny tumors escape detection via traditional means, but KI researchers are using a long-wavelength band of light known as the second near-infrared window to penetrate deep into tissue and monitor cancer cells in real time at unprecedented resolution. (2016 Image Awards winner)
Koch Institute Professors Angela Belcher, Sangeeta Bhatia, and Paula Hammond will present their multi-dimensional approaches to tackling the challenge of early detection in ovarian cancer and their technologies that could identify new ovarian cancer biomarkers. They will be joined by MIT alumna Parul Somani, who will share her experiences as a BRCA1 carrier, breast cancer survivor, ovarian cancer previvor, and cancer care-giver. A dessert reception in the KI Public Galleries will follow.
Moderator: Jane Wilkinson, Koch Institute Executive Director
James Mason Crafts Professor and Professor of Biological Engineering
Angela Belcher seeks to understand and harness nature’s own processes in order to design technologically important materials and devices for energy, the environment, and medicine. Recently, the Belcher group has developed both new probes for near-infrared imaging, which have produced promising data for imaging tumors in both ovarian and brain cancer for detection of 1/2 millimeter-sized tumors, as well as ovarian cancer animal studies showing a 40% increase in median survival using this new technology. The Belcher Lab has also developed a new optical imaging system to facilitate non-invasive, in vivo cellular-level imaging of whole mice and rats, with a demonstrated depth of 6 centimeters in muscle tissue.
John J. and Dorothy Wilson Professor of Health Sciences and Technology and of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Sangeeta Bhatia engineers micro and nanotechnologies, also called “tiny technologies,” to address complex challenges in human health ranging from cancer to liver disease and acquired infections. Bhatia’s multidisciplinary team develops tools for use in diagnostics and detection, and in precision therapeutics to specifically target tumors. Nanosensors designed by the Bhatia team are capable of detecting and profiling very early-stage tumors, and can be analyzed via a simple urine test. The same technology may also yield insights into a tumor’s response to certain therapies.
Institute Professor and Head of the Department of Chemical Engineering
Paula Hammond uses electrostatics, and directed and self-assembly of polymers, to create drug delivery systems that convey high degrees of spatial and temporal control and target cells of interest via multiple modes. Her laboratory uses this approach to develop nanoparticles capable of delivering combination therapies for ovarian cancer, as well as intractable breast, lung, and brain cancers. Additional cancer applications include vaccine generation and delivery of immunostimulatory agents to the tumor microenvironment.
Founder and CEO of Silver Linings
Parul Somani is an award-winning patient advocate who will share her experiences as a BRCA1 carrier, breast cancer survivor, ovarian cancer previvor, and cancer caregiver. She was named the 2020 “Raising Hope Honoree” by the American Cancer Society and currently serves on the American Cancer Society’s National Breast Cancer Roundtable and their Patient Family Advisory Council. Before founding Silver Linings, she was a Senior Manager in management consulting at Bain & Company and a marketing and operations leader in technology and genomics start-ups. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science with a minor in economics from MIT and an MBA from Harvard Business School.