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

A Banner Year for the Irvine Lab

If you thought the eight-foot tall lightboxes in the Koch Institute Public Galleries were impressive, you should see the banners in Lobby 7! Part of the MIT Better World campaign and put on display for all to admire on the eve of MIT's 2017 commencement activities, these four flags represent the four pillars of MIT's approach to improving the world — education, passion, research, and innovation. Of particular note is the research banner, which displays the 2015 KI Image Awards winner "Easy Breezy" on its 36'9" face. The image, showing microparticles designed to block metastasis to the lungs, could have been used to illustrate any of the four concepts, but we are honored that a project that combines science and engineering to improve human health has been chosen to exemplify MIT's research arm. more...

Hockfield Hall of Fame

Congratulations to KI member and MIT President Emerita Susan Hockfield for her induction into the U.S. News and World Report STEM Leadership Hall of Fame, which recognizes pioneers that have “strong track records of achievement in advancing STEM education and workforce development, and share firm commitment to developing a blueprint for the future of STEM.” Recent examples of her inspiring leadership can be seen in the Iconic Voices from MIT lecture organized by the Singapore University of Technology and Design, and her "Storied Women of MIT" video profile for Women's History Month. Read more. more...

The Life of a Pioneer

Did you know that KI faculty member Robert Weinberg once built a cabin by hand in the woods of New Hampshire? Or that during the Civil Rights movement, he housed sharecroppers in Alabama who had been evicted from their land for registering to vote? Fascinating facts, that we enjoyed learning about in a recent article by MedPage Today. In the article, Weinberg — who is widely regarded as a cancer research pioneer for his discoveries of the first human oncogene, and the first tumor suppressor gene — talks about successes and setbacks over the course of his career, reflects on his tenure at MIT as a student, member of MIT's Center for Cancer Research (predecessor to the Koch Institute), and founding member of the Whitehead Institute. more...

KI Trainee Takes on Washington

The KI Koehler Lab’s Shelby Doyle joined the MIT Science Policy Initiative on a trip to Washington, D.C. to meet with representatives and advocate for science funding. As she stepped out of the lab and onto the Hill, Doyle gained insight into the legislative process, and left inspired to partner with policymakers to further advance and better serve the science and engineering community. Read about her experience on the MIT Alumni Association blog, “Slice of MIT." more...

Honey, I Shrunk the Spheroids

How does continuous low-dose chemotherapy compare against intermittent high-dose treatment when it comes to tumor shrinkage? To explore the relationship between tumor size and the efficacy of continuous low-dose chemotherapy, Cima Lab researchers grew spherical ovarian cancer cell clusters 100 or 200 microns in diameter and exposed them to different doses of cisplatin. The new study, published in Gynecologic Oncology, showed that continuous low-dose cisplatin delivery was just as effective against 100-micron tumor spheroids as a single high dose, similar to established treatment delivered by a catheter. The researchers also found that 200-micron tumor spheroids were treated more effectively with the continuous low dose than with a single dose. These findings support the strategy behind the Cima Lab's development of an origami-like, drug-loaded device that is noninvasively inserted into the abdomen and remains in place for the full treatment course — helping to alleviate serious side effects of the invasive and often intolerable intraperitoneal chemotherapy regimen for ovarian cancer while maximizing cisplatin's effectiveness. This research was supported in part by the Koch Institute and Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center Bridge Project and the Koch Institute Frontier Research Program through the Kathy and Curt Marble Cancer Research Fund. more...

Farewell to a Friend

The Koch Institute remembers — with admiration, affection, and gratitude — Jennifer C. Johnson, who passed away on May 15, 2017. The wife and partner of late Koch Institute Leadership Council member and MIT alumnus Charles W. Johnson (1955), Jen shared with Chuck a commitment to service, a love of family, friends, and community, and a passion for MIT. A self-described ‘domestic engineer,’ she was also a business owner and active the Racine, WI community where she lived for many years, generously contributing her personal talents and generosity to numerous organizations. more...

Infinite sMiles All Around

Congratulations to the KI members recognized at this year’s MIT Infinite Mile Award ceremony! Mariane Melo, a research scientist in the Irvine Lab, received the award for her hard work and dedication to cultivating a positive sense of community in the lab. And (forgive us for tooting our own horn!) the KI communications team made up of Leny Gocheva, Sara Hellmold, Kelsey Montgomery, and Erika Reinfeld was recognized for strategically furthering the KI’s mission and communicating the impact of KI research to diverse audiences. Read more. more...

The Cool Nano-nerds

The KI dream team of Sangeeta Bhatia, Angela Belcher, and Paula Hammond are (as they describe themselves) "the cool kind of nerds" who are making substantial advances in cancer research on the nanoscale. Comprising half of the all-star faculty at the KI's Marble Center for Cancer Nanomedicine (of which Bhatia is the director), this power trio combines their expertise in various scientific areas and engineering disciplines to develop a theranostic platform — a combination diagnostic and therapy — made from nanomaterials to detect tumors at their earliest stages and destroy them before they become threatening. In the latest "This Moment in Cancer" segment from WBUR, these three dedicated engineers talk about the potential of nanomedicine in the fight against cancer and how, as researchers and mentors, they work to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers. more...

Wnt Power

One distinction between benign and malignant cancers is the quantity of highly proliferative cells whose stem cell-like behavior drives aggressive tumor growth. In a new Nature paper, Jacks Lab researchers describe how the Wnt signaling pathway promotes such qualities in lung tumor cells, resulting in two distinct cellular populations—one that produces the Wnt signal and another that responds to it. By inhibiting the Wnt signal, the team was able to suppress the stem-like behavior of the responder cells, leading to lower propagation rates and increased survival. Their results suggest that targeted disruption of proliferation-inducing pathways early in a tumor's development can translate into effective cancer therapies. This work was supported in part by the Transcend Program, a partnership between the Koch Institute and Janssen Pharmaceuticals. more...

In Tune with Tumors

Between her studies in materials science, her engineering research, her contributions to global health, and her passion for playing piano, Bhatia Lab UROP Tiffany Yeh hasn’t missed a beat during her time at MIT. In a reflective piece for MIT News, Yeh looks back upon her time at MIT and the KI and explains how it has influenced her ultimate goal of becoming a doctor. During her time in the Bhatia Lab, Yeh worked with postdoc Simone Schürle (now a faculty member at ETH Zurich) to develop magnetic microrobots that can deliver drug-loaded nanoparticles into tumors. As for her future medical career, Yeh plans to apply her experience in the lab towards developing medical devices and taking them from patent stage to clinical trials. more...

KI Members and Collaborators Elected to NAS

Congratulations to KI members Sangeeta Bhatia and Stephen Bell on their elections to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) — a prestigious honor that recognizes scientific excellence and outstanding contributions to knowledge. Bhatia and Bell, along with KI collaborator Klavs Jensen, were among six MIT affiliates elected to the NAS in 2017. Following the induction of Bhatia and Bell later this year, a total of 19 KI members will have been awarded membership in the NAS — a private organization of scientists dedicated to the furtherance of science and its use for the general welfare. Bhatia will join Robert Langer as the second KI faculty member to hold membership in the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Inventors — a proud example of the diverse and boundary-defying talents of our faculty. more...

Shobrys Gives Back

KI friends Don Shobrys '75 and Carol Aronson appear in the cover feature of the new Spring 2017 edition of MIT’s Corridor. In the profile, Shobrys discusses the vast array of opportunities that were available to him as an MIT undergraduate, and how his experiences as both a student and an alumnus have inspired him to give back to his alma mater. One of the ways Shobrys gives back is by contributing to the KI, which he describes as “a microcosm of MIT,” citing thriving interdisciplinary collaborations within our research facility and across the university. He and Aronson also discuss their high regard for MIT's willingness to “attack the world’s most challenging problems," especially cancer. Read more. more...

Of Mice and Men

Researchers in the Jacks and Yilmaz laboratories have developed new strategies for modeling human colorectal cancer in mice. Using a combination of CRISPR gene editing and the transplantation of cultured colon cancer cells into the mouse colon, the team was able to rapidly induce tumors that closely resemble features of human cancer, including metastasis. These new experimental approaches, described in Nature Biotechnology, will be used for in vivo colorectal cancer research using patient-derived material, gene function analysis, as well as translational drug discovery and testing. The work was supported in part by the Koch Institute Frontier Research Program through the Kathy and Curt Marble Cancer Research Fund, and was featured in the 2016 Image Awards exhibition in the Koch Institute Public Galleries. more...

Looking Sharp!

What do KI member Phillip Sharp, former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, and actress Kathy Bates have in common? All three were honored at the Research!America's 21st Annual Advocacy awards in March. Sharp, an MIT Institute Professor and Nobel Laureate, received the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Award for Sustained National Leadership for his distinguished work in cancer research at MIT and advocacy efforts as Chairman of Stand Up to Cancer’s Scientific Advisory Committee. The following month, Sharp was again recognized for his groundbreaking work and was chosen to deliver the 127th Annual Shattuck Lecture at the Massachusetts Medical Society’s Annual Meeting. Presentation of the Shattuck Lecture is an honor given to leaders in health and medicine who are based within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In his remarks, Sharp chronicled the evolution of Kendall Square and Cambridge's thriving biotechnology community. more...

Vander Heiden Receives SU2C Sharp Award

Congratulations to KI member Matthew Vander Heiden, the Eisen and Chang Career Development Professor, and University of Wisconsin-Madison Morgridge Institute for Research's Melissa Skala for being awarded the Phillip A. Sharp Innovation in Collaboration Award from Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C). With this grant, the team will work together to discover new ways to tackle pancreatic cancer by studying the altered metabolism of cancer cells. The dynamic duo is one of four teams honored with this award, established in 2014 by the SU2C founders to promote “innovation in collaboration” among members of the SU2C community  It is named in honor of Nobel Laureate Phillip Sharp — a KI member and Chairperson of SU2C’s Scientific Advisory — and is selected by committee. This is the second award Vander Heiden has received from SU2C; in 2016, he received an Innovative Research Grant to support his work in defining the metabolic dependencies of tumors. Read more. more...

KI Outreach in Full Swing

From the American Association for the Advancement of Science's (AAAS) Family Science Days to the Cambridge Science Festival (CSF), more than 2,000 visitors have experienced the excitement of cancer research through hands-on activities, demonstrations, e-pen pals, and a pop-up custom-designed mini-golf course. So far this year, approximately three dozen volunteers from more than 20 laboratories pitched in to present KI research at four different outreach events — How Does MIT Fight Cancer? at the AAAS annual meeting; Girls Against Cancer! at the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts' STEM Expo; the NetPals partnership with the Cambridge Public Schools; and Putt-ing Cancer in its Place, a new spin for the KI's seventh annual CSF contribution. We can't speak for everyone, but the reviewers agree — KI outreach is a "hole" lot of fun! more...

Amon Elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Congratulations to KI member Angelika Amon, the Kathleen and Curtis Marble Professor in Cancer Research, for being elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences for 2017. One the nation’s most prestigious honorary societies — Amon was elected to the Academy for her contributions to Biological Sciences, namely Cellular & Developmental Biology, Microbiology, and Immunology.  more...

Jacks Went Up The Hill

What do you get when you put three leading cancer researchers and a passionate advocate in front of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform? Support for cancer research on both sides of the aisle. On March 29, KI Director Tyler Jacks joined a panel of cancer research experts to testify in front of the bipartisan committee and argue that federal investment in cancer research is critical for the vitality of the nation’s citizens, economy, and status as the global leader in biomedical research.  more...

Defeating Diagnostic Deficits

A major challenge in fighting cancer is catching it early, when therapies tend to be most effective and patient outcomes most improved. In a recent Nature Biomedical Engineering publication, the Bhatia Lab shows off the capabilities of the new and improved version of their non-invasive urinary diagnostic, which incorporates new design strategies for tumor-specific signal generation and better penetration into tumors. more...

AACR Experiences the 'KI Effect'

That the convergence of engineers and scientists can make a difference in cancer research comes as no surprise to our faithful readers. However, attendees at the recent American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting in Washington just experienced the KI effect! Find out more about the groundbreaking plenary sessions that were given by KI engineers Angela Belcher and Sangeeta Bhatia, the awards received by KI members, and other exciting happenings at this year’s meeting. more...

Not Your Gene-ric Research Result

The road to personalized cancer treatment is long and winding, and often bends toward therapies that target specific gene mutations present in a patient's tumor. However, new evidence from the Amon Lab suggests that there may be more to this paradigm than meets the eye. The researchers found that aneuploidy (the condition in which cells contain an abnormal number of chromosomes) alone can cause significant variability in genetically identical organisms. Their results, published in Cell, could explain why cancers with identical mutations may respond differently to the same treatment. The team hopes this work will inform the development of new treatment strategies to target specific pathways leading to such variabilities among tumor cells. Read more. more...

Sabatini Receives Lurie Prize in Biomedical Sciences

KI member David Sabatini has been named the recipient of the fifth annual Lurie Prize in Biomedical Sciences, which recognizes outstanding achievement by a promising young scientist. Sabatini, whose lab is located at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, was chosen for his discovery of the mTOR (mechanistic target of rapamycin) cellular pathway as a key regulator of growth and metabolism in response to nutrients, and how mTOR regulation impacts normal and diseased physiology. Sabatini’s research focus has the potential to unlock ways to manipulate the mTOR pathway, perhaps one day protecting against age-related diseases such as cancer by tricking the body into mimicking a fasting state even under nutrient-replete conditions. Read more. more...

Biomarker identified for likely aggressive, early stage breast cancer

The laboratory of KI and Whitehead Institute member Piyush Gupta, the Howard S. (1953) and Linda B. Stern Career Development Professor, has identified a factor, SMARCE1, that drives invasion in early-stage breast cancers. It does so by regulating the expression of proteases, enzymes that degrade basement membrane, an extracellular matrix barrier surrounding all epithelial tissues. The team's findings, published in PNAS, suggest that SMARCE1 could serve as a predictor of whether early-stage tumors will ultimately progress and become invasive. Because more than half of low risk 'in situ' breast lesions are benign and will never become aggressive, these results offer a promising strategy to customize treatment plans, and spare those patients whose tumors are less likely to progress. Read more. more...

Programmed for Success

KI researchers Jasdave Chahal and Omar Khan — along with other members of the Anderson and Ploegh Labs — have been developing a more effective way to rapidly generate customized vaccines. Instead of common approaches like using weakened forms of virus, the team uses viral RNA packaged into nanoparticles for delivery to the cells. Once inside the cell, the RNA is translated into proteins that provoke an immune response from the host — with effective results. Last year the team tested therapeutic vaccines for Ebola and influenza; this year they have moved to Zika and, with the help of the Bridge Project, cancer is up next. Read more. more...

From Melanocytes to Microfluidics

The Koch Institute's seventh annual Image Awards exhibition opened in the KI Public Galleries on March 24, after much anticipation and hot on the heels of partner Wellcome Image Awards' 20th anniversary exhibition in London. The KI visuals offer glimpses into ten different MIT laboratories and a wide range of topics, from cell signaling, cancer biology, and regeneration, to drug delivery, tissue engineering, and clinical testing. Opening event photos and presentations are accessible via KI social media channels, including Twitter hashtag #KIimages. The new images are also the focus of the latest Cell Picture Show and a popular feature article on STAT. Congratulations to all the winners and thank you to the scientists, artists, and media specialists who served as judges this year, including Catherine Draycott, outgoing Head of Wellcome Images, who has overseen the image exchange program between the KI and Wellcome Trust these past seven years. more...

Stiff Competition

Members of the Anderson and Langer Labs, in collaboration with researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital, have identified a way to block a signaling molecule that causes fibrosis and effectively prevent the buildup of damaging scar tissue around implanted medical devices. When a device is implanted into the body, cells work to isolate the foreign material and build a defensive wall of dense scar tissue around it, eventually inhibiting its function. In this Nature Materials paper, the researchers identified that the signaling molecule CSF1 plays a key role in this process and showed that blocking the CSF1 cell surface receptor using a small molecule inhibitor prevents the fibrosis from occurring. The ability to stop detrimental fibrosis is key to improving the lifespan of implantable devices — whose capabilities in the areas of detection, monitoring, and drug delivery are critical in mounting effective cancer treatments. The team is now working on ways to deliver CSF1 receptor blocking drugs along with the device itself. Read more. more...

Tethered 'til the End

Langer Lab researchers are coating cancer cells with nanoparticles to make the cells more vulnerable to various drug treatments and, ultimately, cell death. When hundreds of nanoparticles are tethered to a cancer cell, they bat and tug at the tumor cell surface as blood flows by, and compress the veil of molecules around it. Published in Nature Medicinethis one-two punch of physical forces followed by drug delivery makes the cell more susceptible to the cell death signal from the drug. You might even say it puts the cell at the "end of its rope" for resisting treatment. This work was supported in part by the Koch Institute Marble Center for Cancer Nanomedicine. Read more. more...

Sending Signals to the Moon

How can specific areas of cancer research contribute to — and gain support from — the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Moonshot? Science Signaling's podcast team sat down with KI member Michael Yaffe, the publication’s Chief Scientific Editor, to discuss opportunities associated with the federally funded program. Yaffe — whose research focuses on signaling pathways and networks that control cell cycle progression and DNA damage responses in cancer and cancer therapy — described several ways in which these pathways are critical for cancer initiation and progression, and how improved understanding of signaling pathways can be applied to treatment. These advancements align with the Moonshot’s goal to improve the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer across the nation and the world. Listen now. more...

Speaking Out for STEMinism

For Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, many KI faculty members served as luminaries and advocates for women in STEM. Paula Hammond was highlighted as one of the “Storied Women of MIT" for the Institute’s Women History Month video series. Sangeeta Bhatia, Director of the Marble Center for Cancer Nanomedicine at the KI, sat down for two Q&A style interviews with our friends at JLABS and Ludwig Cancer Research to discuss medical innovation, entrepreneurship, and the important role of women in STEM. Bhatia also contributed a video to ONE’s #GirlsCount campaign where she encouraged empowerment through nanotechnology, and reiterated MIT's commitment to closing the gender gap in STEM education. more...

Eliezer Calo Joins Faculty

The KI welcomes assistant professor Eliezer Calo to our extramural faculty. Following postdoctoral work at Stanford University, Calo — who first came to MIT through MIT's Summer Research Program (MSRP) and in 2010, received his PhD in the laboratory of KI associate director Jacqueline Lees — will devote his new lab to understanding how cells assemble ribosomes and the roles these important macromolecules play in development and disease. The lab will also explore the ways that defects in ribosome assembly can affect embryonic development and lead to developmental disorders. Calo hopes to inspire and support the next generation of graduate students and MSRP researchers through the same foundational MIT research experiences he received. Calo is one of three new MIT Biology faculty members, including KI intramural faculty member Stefani Spranger. Read more. more...

The KI Welcomes Stefani Spranger

The Koch Institute is proud to welcome Stefani Spranger as our newest intramural facuity member. Her laboratory, located within the KI, will explore how a range of tumor cell-intrinsic, tissue-specific, and environmental factors directly impact the interaction between cancer and the immune system. More specifically, Spranger's research will focus on developing new and effective treatment strategies that activate the immune system to fight cancer. Spranger's deep knowledge in the field of immunotherapy will be a tremendous asset to the KI's immuno-oncology program, and to the MIT Department of Biology, where she will be an assistant professor. Welcome! more...

Welcome to Langermania

KI member Robert Langer, the David H. Koch Institute Professor, has been doing laps around the press circuit, but don't plan on him slowing down anytime soon. Most recently, Langer was featured as "The Edison of Medicine" in Harvard Business Review via an in-depth profile detailing his illustrious accomplishments as an academic and entrepreneur. The article includes business advice from Langer himself — as well as success stories about research by Langer Lab postdocs Oliver "Ollie" Jonas and Mark Tibbitt*. The projects described, respectively supported in part by the Koch Institute's Frontier Research Program and S. Leslie Misrock Frontier Research Fund for Cancer Nanotechnology, highlight the culture of the lab itself and the important role that mentorship plays in transforming ideas into impact. Langer also headlined an article in WIRED showcasing his contributions to smarter drug delivery, namely his work with polymers to create long-lasting pills and drugs. Finally, Langer got personal with the science-based human interest blog Humans of Science as he talked about his career, inspirations, and motivations. (Phew!) *click on "Life in Langer Lab" to expand this web-only feature. more...

What's Your Damage?

Are all chemotherapies created equal? Researchers in the laboratories of KI members Michael Hemann and Stephen Lippard analyzed the mechanisms of action of three common platinum-based chemotherapeutics and discovered that drugs that were thought to act similarly actually kill cells in very different ways. Their results, published in Nature Medicine, suggest that our current arsenal of anti-cancer agents are not generic killers, but rather can be targeted towards specific cancer alterations to achieve optimal results. This work was supported in part by the Koch Institute Frontier Research Program through the Michael (1957) and Inara Erdei Fund and Kathy and Curt Marble Cancer Research Fund, and a Misrock Postdoctoral Fellowship. more...

Susan Hockfield: A Force for Science

Susan Hockfield, MIT President Emerita and KI member, has begun her year-long role as the new President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Hockfield is a strong advocate for convergence and recently co-authored an article on this topic for Science with KI member and MIT Institute Professor Phillip Sharp. While president of MIT, Hockfield was a driving force in transforming the former MIT Center for Cancer Research into the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research—helping the KI become the gold standard for convergence by adding engineers to our faculty. In this article from AAAS, readers get an inside look into Hockfield's history, what inspired her to be the force in science that she is today, and how she plans to use her year-long position to advocate for the use of science and research in addressing the challenges facing the country and world. more...

Challenge Accepted

Grand Challenge Accepted

A team of MIT professors, led by the KI’s Christopher Love, has joined forces with professors from Kansas University and University College London to develop new ways to produce low-cost vaccines for global distribution through their innovative ULTRA platform. Through a Grand Challenge grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the team aims to create the ULTRA manufacturing platform to produce certain vaccines for less than 15 cents a dose. more...

Out of the Tower, Into the Square

Although the Koch Institute rises high above Main Street and is home to many of MIT's great academic minds, we are far from being an ivory tower. On the MIT Alumni Association's "Slice of MIT" blog, Shelby Doyle, a graduate student in the Koehler Lab, describes the opportunities available to aspiring cancer researchers by virtue of the KI's proximity to other local research institutes, as well as top companies and hospitals. In her piece, Shelby reflects on the KI's collaborative, interdisciplinary nature and describes our neighborhood as a bustling market square — full of innovation and promise — that brings her research to the next level. more...

Not Throwing Away Their Shot

Two Anderson Lab postdocs are not throwing away their shot... to transform vaccines. Jasdave Chahal (previously in the Ploegh Lab at the Whitehead Institute) and Omar Khan have been building a rapid vaccine development platform. They aim to tackle some of today's leading global health issues—such as Zika, Ebola, and influenza. With support from the Advanced Medical Research Foundation in collaboration with KI director Tyler Jacks’ laboratory, as well as a Bridge Project grant with Stephanie Dougan at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, the duo is also working on prophylactic vaccines for lung and pancreatic cancer, respectively. Chahal and Khan, together with their professors—experienced entrepreneurs Robert Langer, Hidde Ploegh, and Daniel Anderson—are also using the technology as a launchpad for their new company, Tiba Biotech. Learn more about this exciting venture and the team’s innovative spirit in MIT's Spectrum. more...

Out with the Old, In with the New

As we gear up for the public opening of our 2017 Koch Institute Image Awards exhibition on March 24, our 2016 winners will soon be relocating from Main Street to Memory Lane. It's been a vibrant year for our exhibition and some images have gone on to find fame on their own—like "Head in the Game" by the Gertler Lab's Russell McConnell and its recent feature in MIT's Spectrum and "Gut Reaction" by the Yilmaz Lab's Jatin Roper and the Jacks Lab's Tuomas Tammela, which was featured in the NIH Director's blog's "Tales of the Intestinal Crypt" last Halloween. As we say goodbye this month, we're paying tribute to these images via the KI Twitter and Facebook pages by sharing fun facts about the images and behind-the-scenes interviews with their creators. Parting is always such sweet sorrow, but don't let yourself get too nostalgic, because all outgoing KI images and those that came before them can be found on our Public Galleries website. more...

Takeda Care of Business

Takeda Pharmaceuticals has given a generous gift to support groundbreaking research in immuno-oncology at the KI. The gift, aimed to encourage several novel research approaches over the next two years, will allow investigators to advance their understanding of the relationship between the immune system and cancer, and accelerate the development of new immunotherapeutic approaches. Immuno-oncology, prioritized by Takeda as “arguably one of the most impactful recent breakthroughs in cancer research” has been one of the KI’s five core focus areas since its founding. more...

Can't Wait for the Seq-Well

Fans of the Love Lab’s signature nanowell technology will be captivated by a new paper in Nature Methods, and by the associated opportunities to rapidly isolate and sequence RNA from complex patient samples. Working with researchers in MIT’s Department of Chemistry, KI engineers have developed an accessible, portable platform for sequencing RNA from many cells simultaneously, which allows the researchers to identify and analyze different cell types found in individual blood or tissue samples, and look for patterns in their gene expression. With expected applications for multiple diseases, including cancer, the Seq-Well approach is sure to be a blockbuster, coming soon to laboratories near you. In fact, the line is already out the door for the new Nanowell Cytometry platform in the KI’s Flow Cytometry Core Facility, and the research team has already joined forces with clinical investigators at Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center to apply this technology toward discovery of new combination immunotherapies as part of the collaborative Bridge Project. more...

Hammond Elected to the National Academy of Engineering

Congratulations to the Koch Institute's Paula Hammond on her election to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), one of the highest professional distinctions that can be accorded to an engineer. Hammond, a David H. Koch Professor of Engineering and the Head of the Department of Chemical Engineering, is one of eight faculty members from MIT named to the 2017 NAE Election Class. A polymer chemist, she was selected for her contributions to self-assembly of polyelectrolytes, colloids, and block copolymers at surfaces and interfaces for energy and health care applications.  more...

Radio Active: KI Cancer Research On the Air

When WBUR launched its new "This Moment in Cancer" series last month, Koch Institute researchers had plenty to say...and share. KI Director and Cancer Moonshot Blue Ribbon Panel Co-Chair Tyler Jacks kicked off the new series by giving insight into the future of cancer research in Boston and also spoke about the promise of cancer immunotherapy. Extramural faculty member Robert Weinberg provided historical and scientific perspectives on the evolution of the field, along with insight into strategies for cancer prevention. Finally, among many other compelling stories, KI alum Viktor Adalsteinsson presented an update on his blood biopsy work: an early detection initiative that began in the KI's Love Lab and continues as an ongoing collaborative effort, in part through with essential funding from the Bridge Project. more...

A Nanoparticle Walks Into a Barcode

Come here often? Finding the perfect nanoparticle to target a specific tissue in the treatment of cancer and other diseases is no small feat. However, by incorporating DNA “barcodes” (unique sequences of nucleotides) into the nanoparticle, Anderson Lab researchers, along with KI alumni James Dahlman and Eric Wang, are now able to track multiple particles to different organs simultaneously. More efficient than screening each particle individually, their method will allow researchers to quickly determine which structural formations are most able to home in on tissues of interest and thereby choose the best candidates for a long term relationship. This work was supported in part by the Koch Institute Frontier Research Program through the Kathy and Curt Marble Cancer Research Fund, and is being applied by Anderson Lab researchers to ongoing investigations conducted within the Marble Center for Cancer Nanomedicine here at the KI. more...

Lemon Aid: Gastric Acid Powers Devices

An ingestible device sounds like an appetizing way to monitor or treat disease, but powering such a platform inside the body is no small feat. Inspired by the tabletop “lemon battery,” KI inventors Giovanni Traverso and Robert Langer, the David H. Koch Institute Professor, teamed up with electrical engineers at MIT to design a low-power electronic system that runs on stomach acid. With potential for sensing, drug delivery, and wireless communication, this technology presents a gutsy solution for many clinical applications, including cancer diagnosis, monitoring, and treatment. more...

Tract and Field: Ultrasound Scores Big

RNA-based therapeutics hold great promise for the treatment of many diseases, including cancer. However, delivering nucleic acids directly into cells can be difficult and often entails complex formulations to package the molecules for uptake, especially in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract where they degrade quickly. To overcome this challenge, researchers from the KI’s Langer Lab, including Research Affiliate Giovanni Traverso, and Quinquennial Cancer Research Fellow Carl Schoellhammer, in collaboration with Brigham and Women’s Hospital, used low-frequency ultrasound to deliver uncoated RNA to colon cells.  Using this delivery technique, they successfully reduced protein levels of a signaling molecule associated with inflammatory bowel disease, a GI disorder that is linked to an increased risk of colon cancer. more...

Extra, Extra, Read All About It

Seeking to better understand the link between abnormal chromosome number and tumor formation, Amon Lab researcher Jason Sheltzer (now a Fellow at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories) worked with KI colleagues to investigate the tumorigenic potential of cells engineered to contain an extra chromosome. While aneuploidy (when a cell has too many or too few chromosomes) is a common feature of cancer, its role in tumor initiation and progression is unclear. In this study, the researchers found that not-yet-malignant cells with a single added chromosome could, surprisingly, suppress tumor growth and better withstand a variety of oncogenic mutations. Sometimes, however, cells adapted to the aneuploidy  giving rise to fast-growing descendants that acquired additional aneuploidies or returned to the normal diploid state. These results, published in Cancer Cell, suggest that aneuploidy may have both tumor-protective and tumor-promoting effects on the development of cancer. This work was supported in part by the Kathy and the Curt Marble Cancer Research Fund. Read more here and here. more...

Foresight is 30/30

KI researchers Adam Behrens, Jiang He, and Tim Wang were named among Forbes' "30 Under 30" in healthcare for 2017. Adam, a postdoc in the Langer Lab, was chosen for his work on developing vaccines that do not require refrigeration and diagnostic tests that can detect infectious diseases at patients’ bedsides. Jiang, a postdoc in the Bhatia Lab, was selected for his graduate work on developing single-virus tracking, super-resolution imaging. Tim, a graduate assistant in the Sabatini Lab, was recognized for developing drug screening techniques to identify genes that can be targeted to treat cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. Now that's what we call clear vision! more...