The David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MITThe David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

National Cancer Institute Cancer Center

Science + Engineering... Conquering Cancer Together

News Archive: 2015

Fellowship of the Innovators

KI members Angela Belcher, Sangeeta Bhatia, and Bob Horvitz are among four MIT faculty members newly elected to the National Academy of Inventors (NAI). The academy honors "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 universities and governmental and non-profit research institutions. The NAI Fellows have collectively issued nearly 14,000 U.S. patents. more...

Immaculate Suppression

The epigenetic regulator Bmi1 is known to promote cellular proliferation through 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 a recent study published in Genes & Development find that Bmi1 supports melanoma metastasis by turning on genes that help melanoma cells invade tissues and survive new environments. Moreover, they find that melanomas with high Bmi1 levels are resistant to BRAF inhibitors--drugs commonly administered as the BRAF gene is activated in 50% of early-stage melanomas. 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 of 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. 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...

Inside story on Bhatia's cancer-detecting nanoparticles

"I dream that one day instead of going into an expensive facility for screening for colonoscopy, for mammograms, for Pap smears, that you could get a shot, wait an hour, and do a urine test on a paper strip," says KI engineer Sangeeta Bhatia. This revolutionary idea, showcased at TEDMED on November 20, 2015, is featured in a recent online profile describing the use of Bhatia's custom nanotechnology for early detection of cancer and other diseases. more...

Leading the way toward more eureka moments

Each year the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB)’s Women in Cell Biology Committee (WICB) identifies an established individual whose outstanding scientific achievements are matched by active scientific mentoring. KI faculty member Angelika Amon, the Kathleen and Curtis Marble Professor in Cancer Research, is the recipient of the 2015 ASCB WICB Sandra K. Masur Senior Leadership Award. In her award essay in Molecular Biology of the Cell, Amon makes the case for more curiosity-driven basic research, describing “rare eureka moments, when you first realize how a process works or when you discover something that opens up a new research direction, that make up for all the woes and frustrations that come with being an experimental scientist in an expensive discipline.” more...

The Fault in our Cells

Created specifically for teens, “The Fault in Our Cells” is a new high school video lesson produced by MIT BLOSSOMS, a program designed to improve global access to high quality STEM education, and is based on research happening in Koch Institute laboratories. The hands-on simulation and accompanying video segments invite students to explore tumor heterogeneity and chemotherapy resistance, and make connections to what they are learning in the classroom about cell division, DNA mutations, and even statistical analysis. The lesson was originally developed by Hemann, Love, and Lees Laboratory members for use in the KI’s youth outreach program and has been presented with great acclaim to visiting students from Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, and beyond. more...

Benjamin Franklin medal

Frank recognition for Robert Langer

Through its Awards Program, The Franklin Institute seeks to provide public recognition and encouragement of excellence in science and technology. KI member and entrepreneur Robert S. Langer, the David H. Koch Institute Professor, has been named the 2016 recipient of the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Life Science for his pioneering work in durg delivery and tissue engineering and for his practical translation of academic ideas. more...

vassar & main

The Koch Institute's corner on innovation

In an editorial for Wired UK, author and venture capitalist Juan Enriquez goes behind the scenes at what he calls "the world's most innovative intersection," the corner of Main Street and Vassar Street. Focusing on MIT innovation and the surrounding biotechnology community, the article praises the Koch Institute as a multidisplciplinary hub for pioneering people, patents and productivity. 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...

Bridge Project

$20 million Commonwealth Foundation for Cancer Research challenge gift to expand collaborative cancer research between Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center and MIT’s Koch Institute

The Commonwealth Foundation for Cancer Research has pledged $20 million to the Bridge Project, a collaborative research program of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT and the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center, to accelerate the translation of interdisciplinary cancer solutions toward the clinic. The Commonwealth Foundation gift, which will be made over the next five years, will double the number of grants available to fund these multi-investigator teams each year. It also will create two new funding mechanisms that will extend the pipeline of collaboration and catalyze the translation of basic research toward clinical trials. “Footbridge Grants” will enable new teams to form and establish proof of concept. “Expansion Grants” will provide follow-on funding to existing teams that are on the cusp of making significant advances toward clinical implementation. more...

Robert Langer meets Queen Elizabeth II and speaks to the BBC

"Engineering is a fantastic profession because it can change the world." So said KI faculty member Robert Langer, the David H. Koch Institute Professor, on BBC Newshour following his receipt of the Queen Elizabeth Prize of Engineering. On October 26, 2015, Queen Elizabeth II presented the award, which credits Professor's Langer lab's work in polymer chemistry and biomedical engineering in the treatment of cancer and other diseases for the improvement of more than 2 billion lives worldwide. more...

Lewis Cantley

Weill Cornell's Lewis Cantley to present inaugural Judith Ann Lippard Memorial Lecture on Oct. 23

Lewis Cantley, director of the Sandra and Edward Meyer Cancer Center at Weill Cornell Medical College/New York Presbyterian Hospital, will present the inaugural Judith Ann Lippard Memorial Lecture on Friday, Oct. 23, at noon in the KI auditorium (76-156). His lecture, "PI 3 Kinase & Cancer Metabolism," will highlight his pioneering work in discovering and studying this pathway that plays a critical role in insulin signaling and in cancers. The Judith Ann Lippard Memorial Lecture was established memory of Judy Lippard, the wife of KI faculty member Stephen J. Lippard. Judy died of endometrial cancer on September 10, 2013. Steve and sons Josh and Alex Lippard, together with countless friends, students, and colleagues created the lectureship to honor Judy’s memory and celebrate her remarkable love of life. The Lippard Lecture unites two extraordinary cancer centers—MIT’s Koch Institute and the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center. In addition to the formal lecture at MIT, Dr. Cantley will deliver Grand Rounds at MGH and spend time with trainees, researchers, and physician-scientists at both institutions, thus inspiring the best and brightest young minds to advance cancer therapies. more...

MIT Athletics

KI undergrads on the offense

NEWMAC, MIT’s athletic conference, focused on cancer awareness for its October news video. Featured MIT student-athletes Molly McNamara and Paige Omura discussed their metastasis research in KI laboratories. McNamara, a senior on the field hockey team and a member of Jackie Lees’ laboratory, shared how she is studying an epigenetic regulator of melanoma that promotes metastasis and resistance to chemotherapy. Omura, a junior on the sailing and women’s basketball teams and a member of Robert Langer’s laboratory, described how her group plans to use magnetic nanoparticles to target and track breast cancer that has spread to the brain. more...

Hockfield portrait

Hockfield portrait unveiled

Last month, the presidential portrait of KI faculty member Susan Hockfield, MIT’s 16th president, was unveiled at Gray House. The first life scientist and the first woman to lead MIT, Hockfield was a driving force behind the creation of the Koch Institute. Since stepping down from the presidency in 2012 and joining the KI, she continues to be a champion of cross-disciplinary collaboration and of our cancer research community. more...

Clinical Cancer Research

KI researchers hog the covers

October was a big month for KI research, with two publications featured as journal cover stories. In Clinical Cancer Research, researchers from the labs of Paula Hammond, David H. Koch Professor of Engineering, and Michael Yaffe, David H. Koch Professor of Science, describe a nanoscale drug formulation engineered with Hammond’s layer-by-layer technology. The nanoparticles simultaneously block two key cell signaling pathways in an animal model of breast cancer, thus evading drug resistance and enhancing cancer-cell death. Meanwhile, in Genes & Development, researchers from the lab of Angelika Amon, the Kathleen and Curtis Marble Professor in Cancer Research, report a new link between aneuploidy — the presence of an abnormal number of chromosomes, often found in cancer cells — and lysosomal stress due to an overload of aggregated proteins. more...

Sangeeta Bhatia

Bhatia’s ideas take flight in New York

Entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, and other giants appeared with KI faculty member Sangeeta Bhatia at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting’s “Looking to the Next Frontier” plenary session. Bhatia discussed her lab’s work at the convergence of engineering and medicine, and the importance of inspiring young women through STEM. She’ll also take the stage at TEDMED in Palm Springs next month, where she’ll share how she and her lab are reimagining cancer diagnostics. more...

crystal structures of p53 DNA-binding domains

Yaffe Lab backs cancer into a corner

Researchers in the laboratory of KI faculty member Michael Yaffe have discovered a drug-resistance mechanism in tumor cells: a backup system that takes over when p53 is disabled. By targeting this backup system, these tumors could be made much more susceptible to chemotherapy. more...

ultrasound

Ultrasound technology is GI go

Researchers in the laboratory of KI member Robert Langer, the David H. Koch Institute Professor, and collaborator Daniel Blankschtein have developed new technology for ultra-rapid drug delivery to the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Their approach, which uses ultrasound waves to stimulate absorption of drugs into the tissue, could improve the treatment GI disorders as well as hard-to-treat colon cancer. more...

Drug delivery

In for the long haul

KI researchers are engineering new solutions to deliver single, steady drug administrations — including of chemotherapy — over weeks, months, and even years. An article in the Sept. 5 issue of The Economist highlights new materials, devices, and nanotechnologies being developed at the KI that aim to release drugs over the long haul. The article features KI research affiliate Giovanni Traverso, KI faculty member and David H. Koch Institute Professor Robert Langer, and KI faculty member and David H. Koch Professor of Engineering Michael Cima. It also notes a Bridge Project collaboration, between Cima and Massachusetts General Hospital’s Michael Birrer and Marcela del Carmen, which aims to adapt Cima’s drug-delivery technology for treating ovarian cancer. more...

Novo Nordisk

New collaboration between Novo Nordisk and the Langer Lab

Novo Nordisk has announced a new research collaboration with KI faculty member and David H. Koch Institute Professor Robert Langer’s laboratory to develop next-generation drug delivery devices for peptide administration. The collaboration aims to develop a platform that can enable oral delivery of peptides as an alternative to injection-based delivery. more...

Canan Dagdeviren

KI postdoc Canan Dagdeviren recognized as an honoree of MIT Technology Review’s annual "Innovators Under 35" list

For over a decade, MIT Technology Review has recognized a list of exceptionally talented technologists whose work has great potential to transform the world. For her work in the field of nanotechnology and materials, Canan Dagdeviren of MIT’s Koch Institute has been recognized as an inventor on the list. Dagdeviren has developed flexible nano-generators that convert mechanical energy from internal organ movements into electric energy to power medical devices. This technology could extend the battery life of implanted medical devices or even eliminate the need of battery replacement, sparing patients from repeated operations and the risk of surgical complications.  more...

Cima device

Bugging cancer

While biopsies of cancerous tissue can provide insight into an appropriate course of treatment, cancer can evolve, develop resistance to therapies, and find new pathways for growth. Now, researchers in the laboratory of KI faculty member and David H. Koch Professor of Engineering Michael Cima have developed an implantable device, small enough to fit inside a biopsy needle, allowing doctors to monitor cancer in real time. The device wirelessly transmits biomarker data, allowing clinicians to easily and inexpensively receive critical feedback on whether a treatment is working or needs adjusting. Cima’s device was covered extensively in the press, including in Boston Magazine and on Boston.com. more...

worldview

One in ten

Scientific American magazine has named 100 biotechnology visionaries in its 2015 issue of worldVIEW, and the KI community represents over 10% of the list. The cohort of 100 influencers, nominated by leaders in biotechnology and biosciences, includes 11 current and former KI faculty members, trainees, and members of our Leadership Council and administrative team — including Professors Sangeeta Bhatia, Robert Langer, Ram Sasisekharan, and Phillip Sharp. more...

Identifying a key growth factor in cell proliferation

In companion papers published in Cell, KI faculty members Matthew Vander Heiden and David Sabatini identify why proliferating cells, particularly tumor cells, require mitochondrial respiration. The researchers found that the primary role of respiration in cell proliferation is to provide electron acceptors in support of the synthesis of aspartate, an amino acid. This discovery — that aspartate is a limiter of cell proliferation — provides crucial insight into how cancer growth could be kept in check. more...

Prototype device

New material opens possibilities for super-long-acting pills

KI researchers have developed a new material for creating safe and long-acting gastrointestinal devices, such as orally delivered capsules that can release drugs for up to several months at a time, which could improve medication adherence. This elastic polymer gel can compress and fold devices into easily ingestible pills that expand to full size in the stomach, facilitating prolonged residence. This pH-responsive material is stable in the stomach’s acidic environment but dissociates in the small intestine’s near-neutral pH, permitting safe passage through the remainder of the GI tract — significantly reducing the risk of intestinal obstruction. This new research was featured in Popular Science and in Boston Magazine. more...

Paula Hammond

Paula Hammond named head of Department of Chemical Engineering

Big news about someone who works with tiny technologies: Paula Hammond, KI faculty member, David H. Koch Professor in Engineering, and MIT alumna, has been named head of MIT’s Department of Chemical Engineering (ChemE). A member of the MIT faculty since 1995, she is the first woman and first person of color to hold the position. Hammond will be spending more time across our North Court backyard at ChemE’s headquarters in Building 66; fortunately, this is only a quick walk away from her KI lab, where she will actively continue her research developing new materials and processes for self-assembling polymeric systems for drug delivery and tissue engineering. more...

Cima & Langer

Major step for implantable drug-delivery device

MIT spinout Microchips Biotech, co-founded by KI faculty members Michael Cima and Robert Langer, has partnered with Teva Pharmaceuticals to commercialize its microchips that release therapeutics inside the body. The implantable microchips can be wirelessly programmed to release individual doses over a period of up to 16 years to treat a variety of diseases—including the treatment of cancer as a chronic illness. While the device would provide convenience to patients, Cima and Langer say that it also would improve medication adherence, especially as the lack thereof in the U.S. annually leads to hundreds of billions of dollars in unnecessary health care costs, around 125,000 deaths, and up to 10 percent of all hospitalizations. more...

J. Christopher Love

Seeking rare cells

Circulating tumor cells can provide valuable information about cancer progression and metastasis, but finding these cells  — which can be hidden among hundreds of millions of others in the bloodstream — is like finding a needle in a haystack. KI faculty member J. Christopher Love uses microscale and nanoscale technology, including advanced screening and sequencing, to isolate and analyze these rare cells. By exploring the genomes of these circulating tumor cells, Love and his lab aim to understand how they differ from cancer cells at the primary tumor site, which could lead to new strategies for developing personalized treatments. more...

Probiotics

Programmable probiotics

KI researchers in Sangeeta Bhatia's laboratory are engineering probiotics — bacteria similar to those found in yogurt — that can specifically detect metastatic tumors in the liver. These safe-to-consume bacteria, delivered orally, produce a luminescent signal that can be detected with a simple urine test and can even change the color of urine to indicate the presence of cancer. At the TED2015 conference in March, TED Fellow Tal Danino, a postdoc in Bhatia’s lab and one of the lead authors of this newly published research, discussed his work in programming bacteria (watch his TED talk). As a next step, Danino is studying how these bacteria can be engineered to treat cancer not only by targeting tumors but also by producing therapeutic molecules inside the tumor environment. more...

Manalis Lab microfluidics go with the flow

Researchers in the laboratory of KI faculty member Scott Manalis have developed a new technique to measure how tiny particles are relatively positioned as they flow through a fluidic channel. Using a suspended microchannel resonator, first developed by Manalis and his colleagues in 2007, the researchers vibrate the device’s tiny cantilevers — which behave like oscillating diving boards — at various frequencies simultaneously. By measuring the changes in each frequency as individual particles rapidly flow through the device, Manalis and his colleagues can calculate not only the mass of particles with near-attogram precision (one millionth of a trillionth of a gram) but also the distance between particles, potentially to a resolution of about four nanometers (four millionths of a millimeter). This approach has several applications, including monitoring assembly of engineered nanoparticles with extreme precision as well as studying how cancer cells deform as they metastasize. more...

From body to bedside

KI researchers in the laboratories of David H. Koch Institute Professor Robert Langer and David H. Koch Professor of Engineering Michael Cima have developed an implantable device that could allow doctors to test drugs in patients before prescribing chemotherapy. When implanted in a tumor, this tiny device diffuses small doses of up to 30 different drugs — or combinations thereof — in surrounding tumor cells. After one day, the implant and a small biopsy of surrounding tissue are removed, allowing researchers to study and rank the efficacy of drugs. This research was featured extensively in the news, including in New ScientistThe Scientist, and The Boston Herald. This device is now an integral part of multiple translational projects, including a Bridge Project collaboration between David H. Koch Professor of Biology Michael Yaffe and colleagues at Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center to test combination drug therapies for advanced prostate cancer. more...

No pain, big gain

Congratulations to the KI’s Carl Schoellhammer, graduate winner of the $15,000 Lemelson-MIT “Cure it!” Student Prize. He is developing two inventions for painless and effective drug delivery: a swallowable drug capsule coated with tiny needles that can inject drugs directly into the stomach lining, and a probe that uses low-frequency ultrasound to drive therapeutics to the gastrointestinal tract. Schoellhammer is a member of the laboratories of KI faculty member Robert Langer and Daniel Blankschtein. more...

Diviya Sinha

Graduate student Diviya Sinha earns Schlumberger Foundation Fellowship

Chemical engineering graduate student Diviya Sinha has received a Faculty for the Future Fellowship from the Schlumberger Foundation. These fellowships are awarded to deserving female scientists and engineers from developing and emerging countries who are pursuing advanced degrees at leading universities worldwide. As a 2015-2016 fellow, Sinha receives a grant of up to $50,000 per year to support her research in immunology. Sinha is a graduate student in the laboratories of KI faculty member Robert Langer, the David H. Koch Institute Professor, and Daniel Blankschtein. more...

CellSqueeze

Freshly squeezed vaccines

KI researchers have shown that they can use a microfluidic cell-squeezing device to introduce specific antigens inside the immune system’s B cells, providing a new approach to developing and implementing antigen-presenting cell vaccines. Through CellSqueeze, the device platform originally developed at MIT, the researchers pass a suspension of B cells and target antigen through tiny, parallel channels etched on a chip. A positive-pressure system moves the suspension through these channels, which gradually narrow, applying a gentle pressure to the B cells. This “squeeze” opens small, temporary holes in their membranes, allowing the target antigen to enter by diffusion. more...

Tyler Jacks

Tyler Jacks receives MIT’s Killian Award

Tyler Jacks, a pioneering cancer biologist and director of MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, is this year’s recipient of MIT’s James R. Killian Jr. Faculty Achievement Award. Jacks is recognized for his leadership of MIT’s cancer research community, and his influence on the field of cancer research. The Killian Award is the highest honor MIT grants to members of its faculty. more...

Creativity Lab

Creativity Lab

Are you interested in exploring the creative side of research science through hands on biology labs? Creativity Lab, hosted by the Koch Institute and the Whitehead Institute, allows high-school students to understand the connection between art and biology. The program will feature ample hands-on experiments in a research lab led by visiting scientists. We will take the science concepts learned in the labs and use them to jump-start art projects. Discover how creative thinking plays a critical role in both disciplines! Applicants must be at least 16 years old at the time of the program. $250 per student fee and seats are limited. Please visit http://wi.mit.edu/programs/creativitylab to register or contact Mary Brooks (brooks@wi.mit.edu) for more details. more...

Sangeeta Bhatia wins $250,000 Heinz Award

An innovative scientist who is developing simple, affordable cancer screening tools and applying the principles of microchip fabrication to develop artificial human “microlivers” was today named as a recipient of a coveted Heinz Award for Technology, the Economy and Employment. The Award was announced by the Heinz Family Foundation and includes an unrestricted cash award of $250,000. Sangeeta Bhatia, M.D., Ph.D., a professor within MIT's Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and the Institute for Medical Engineering & Science is one of six recipients of the 20th Heinz Awards. The accolades honor the memory of the late U.S. Senator John Heinz by recognizing those who have made outstanding contributions in one of five critically important categories: Arts and Humanities; Environment; Human Condition; Public Policy; and Technology, the Economy and Employment. more...

A metabolic vulnerability in glioblastoma

Funded in part through the KI Frontier Research Program, KI members David Sabatini, a professor of biology, and Matthew Vander Heiden, the Eisen and Chang Career Development Professor and an associate professor of biology, have identified a vulnerability in glioblastoma that could offer a new target for treating these brain tumors. Certain glioblastoma cells depend on the enzyme GLDC to break down the amino acid glycine. The researchers found that when GLDC is blocked in these cells, glycine enters a different metabolic pathway, producing toxic byproducts that build up and ultimately kill the tumor cells. The researchers are now seeking GLDC-blocking compounds that could exploit this vulnerability to treat glioblastoma. more...

Steven Keating

Open data opens minds

As access to data about his brain ultimately led to the detection and removal of a baseball-sized tumor last August, Steven Keating knows firsthand how powerful health data can be. Keating, an MIT graduate student, has open sourced much of his own health data on his personal website with the hope that it may help researchers and patients better understand cancer. His inspiring story, which blends equal parts curiosity and positivity, has been shared in MIT NewsThe New York Times, and BetaBoston, and he has given several talks on campus, including two at the KI. more...

Nano-networked drug delivery

Researchers in the lab of KI faculty member Robert Langer, the David H. Koch Institute Professor, have designed an injectable nano-network that can release drugs, including chemotherapeutics, over a prescribed period of time. The mesh-like network can flow through a needle and rapidly reform into an intact gel inside the body, allowing for a great deal of flexibility in delivering drugs to specific tissues—including those that are hard to reach. The researchers are also studying how this technology can attract, sequester, and kill metastatic tumor cells. This research was funded in part through a postdoctoral fellowship through the S. Leslie Misrock (1949) Frontier Research Fund for Cancer Nanotechnology. more...

Here, there, and everywhere

Yiping Xing, a senior biology major and KI undergraduate researcher, was recently featured in MIT News for her interdisciplinary work in health: from cancer research to public health to policy. In the Langer Lab, she worked with former graduate student James Dahlman on a team studying a nanoparticle drug-delivery system that uses RNAi to silence genes implicated in cancer development. In MIT’s International Development House, she designed an inexpensive, all-natural system that converts organic waste to animal feed, and she manages a program that implements the process for rural farmers in Ghana. As a result of these experiences and an internship experience in the U.S. Surgeon General’s office, Xing says she is particularly interested in how scientists can shape government policies that tackle domestic and global challenges. more...

Susan Hockfield

Converging on world challenges

January’s annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, explored some of the world’s most pressing challenges. Susan Hockfield, MIT president emerita, KI faculty member, and chair of the WEF’s Foundation Board, says that the convergence of scientific disciplines is the path forward for addressing many of them. With an estimated nine billion people projected to occupy the globe by 2050, Hockfield writes that “an accelerating convergence of the biological, physical, and engineering sciences promises a stunning array of new technological solutions,” citing KI faculty member Sangeeta Bhatia’s inexpensive, paper-strip urine test for cancer as one example. more...

Daniel Anderson

Special delivery

Although KI faculty member Daniel Anderson once considered going into business school or industry after completing his Ph.D. in molecular genetics, he instead was drawn to a postdoctoral position in David H. Koch Institute Professor Robert Langer’s laboratory to study drug delivery. Ever since, he’s been on the cutting edge of developing new biomaterials and delivery methods. After completing his postdoc, he continued to work with Langer’s lab for about a decade before joining the KI faculty in 2010. Now, Anderson and his own lab have developed new systems for nanoparticle drug delivery, non-viral gene therapy, siRNA delivery, and vaccines to treat cancer and other diseases. To ensure a direct impact on human health, Anderson has also founded several companies to catalyze the bench-to-bedside pipeline and bring his discoveries one step closer to patients in need. more...

Main attraction

Adding new splashes of color to Main Street, the 2015 Koch Institute Image Awards exhibition brings new views of MIT research to Cambridge locals and visitors alike. With winners chosen from more than 100 submissions and 35 laboratories, the KI's fifth annual showcase of life sciences and engineering imagery offers intriguing glimpses into microscopic worlds that change the way we view cancer, climate, and cell biology. See the winning images at ki-galleries.mit.edu, and watch the presentations by image creators here. Don’t forget to look for the Irvine Lab’s “Easy Breezy” microparticles in our sister exhibition at Wellcome Images and for all of the winning images on the Cell Picture Show. more...

Sangeeta Bhatia elected to the National Academy of Engineers

While the pundits may be looking forward to 2016, we’re excited about an election that has already happened. KI faculty member Sangeeta Bhatia has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE)—one of the highest professional distinctions accorded to American engineers. Bhatia is cited for her accomplishments in developing tissue engineering and regeneration technologies as well as methods for preclinical drug evaluation. As one of the NAE’s newest members, she now becomes the seventh current KI faculty member to hold the distinction. more...

Artsy bacteria spread science

Fresh on the heels of a top-five finish in Fashion Descience’s fall contest, bioengineer Tal Danino continues to use art as a medium to share his research. Danino, a postdoc in the KI’s Bhatia Lab and a recently named TED2015 Fellow, met MIT visiting artist Vik Muniz two years ago, kicking off an unlikely partnership. Their work ultimately resulted in the Colonies series, a translation of cancer cells and bacteria into art. Now, a piece from the series—a mosaic of liver cells infected with smallpox vaccine—is featured as part of the Gates Foundation’s “The Art of Saving a Life” campaign, which uses art to tell stories depicting the successes and future promises of immunization. Danino’s collaboration has been featured extensively in the press, including in The New York TimesThe Wall Street Journal, and Wired. more...

Robert Langer

Robert Langer wins the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering

KI faculty member Robert Langer, the David H. Koch Institute Professor, has been named the winner of the 2015 Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering (QEPrize). As there is no Nobel Prize for engineering, the QEPrize was launched in 2011 to fill this void while raising the public profile of engineering and inspiring young people to become engineers. Langer is receiving the prize for his revolutionary advances and leadership in engineering at the interface with chemistry and medicine. In particular, this recognition comes for being the first person to engineer polymers to enable the controlled release of large molecular weight drugs in the treatment of cancer and other diseases.  He will receive the prize from Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace later this year. more...

Forbes 30 Under 30

Four KI trainees recognized as Forbes 30 Under 30

The KI boasts a great deal of young talent, and Forbes agrees! Forbes published its fourth annual 30 Under 30 lists in January, recognizing young game changers, movers, and makers in various fields. Four KI-affiliated trainees were named to the lists: two in the healthcare category, and two in the science category. more...