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

STAT Madness: 65 institutions compete for the most innovative research of the year. Vote now.

Vote, STAT!

The KI's own Belcher Lab has reached the finals of the 2020 STAT Madness competition, a bracket-style tournament to find the best innovations in science and medicine. The Belcher Lab's SWIFTI imaging system could help surgeons and oncologists find and remove ovarian cancer tumors that aren't visible to the naked eye—improving prognosis and increasing survival for patients. 

Help this project win the competition and vote early and often (you can vote multiple times in one day). Brackets close on Sunday, April 5 at 9pm EDT. Don’t forget to spread the word on social media with the hashtag #STATmadness. more...

Did you eat your Wheaties?

Greetings, cancer fighters! TODAY the Koch Institute is throwing down in MIT’s 24-Hour Challenge. At stake is critical, unrestricted support for research, trainees, and cutting-edge equipment to keep the KI on the frontline of progress against cancer. In this year’s challenge all gifts benefit the Koch Institute Director’s Fund, where gifts from 120 donors will unlock an anonymous challenge gift of an extra $10K. 

But wait, there’s more! Gifts from an additional 30 donors will unlock another $15K from Steve Corman '58, SM ’61, who for years has led by example on challenging oneself to do more to fight cancer. That’s an extra $25,000 up for grabs to advance research and training. Today’s challenge is all about the KI community coming together to support innovative solutions for cancer. Learn more about how you can help clinch this challengemore...

Speaking Frankly

Cancer patients rarely get to meet the researchers behind their treatments, and cancer researchers rarely get to put a name or face to the people who benefit from their work. Yet, that’s precisely what happened when retiree Frank Lovell and postdoc Jesse Patterson chatted after the Koch Institute’s recent SOLUTIONS with/in/sight.

Frank was a participant in a clinical trial showcased that evening, for a prostate cancer combination therapy pairing the widely-used targeted therapy abiraterone with the Plk1 inhibitor onvansertib. The trial also represents a powerful synergy, starting with the Yaffe Lab and their Bridge Project clinical collaborators, and catalyzed by a chance connection with west coast biotech Trovagene. For patients like Frank, this combination is turning out to be far greater than the sum of its parts. more...

slice of a neuroblastoma tumor derived from chimeric mice stained by immunofluorescence for human neuroblastoma markers.

New Model for Neuroblastoma

The laboratories of Rudolf Jaenisch and Stefani Spranger, the Howard S. (1953) and Linda B. Stern Career Development Professor, have developed a mouse to study tumor development and immune response in neuroblastoma, a rare form of childhood cancer that has proven difficult to study in animal models. The mice, described in a study appearing in Cell Stem Cell, were modified to include human cells in parts of the nervous system.  more...

Soleimany explains chalkboard diagram to student

Deep Learning at IAP

Bhatia Lab grad student Ava Soleimany is helping to spread machine-learning tools into research labs across MIT with IAP course 6.S191 Introduction to Deep Learning. Co-designed and taught with Alexander Amini, her class begins with machine learning basics and culminates with students making real-world applications of their own. The pair were inspired to create the course through their own experiences using machine learning in research—Soleimany develops nanosensors for the early detection of lung cancer (supported by the Koch Institute Frontier Research Program via Upstage Lung Cancer). more...

Amon Wins 2020 HFSP Nakasone Award

Congratulations to Angelika Amon, the Kathleen and Curtis Marble Professor of Cancer Research, on receiving the 2020 HFSP Nakasone Award! The award, given by the Human Frontier Science Program, honors scientists who have made important breakthroughs in the life sciences. This year's award is given in recognition of Amon's “discovery of aneuploidy-induced cellular changes and their contribution to tumorigenesis, which paved the way for exploiting aneuploidy as a therapeutic target in cancer treatment.”  more...

Niche Interest

The Hynes Lab sheds light on how metastatic tumor cells adapt to survive in different locations. Analysis of the extracellular matrix (ECM) surrounding breast cancer metastases, published in Cancer Research, revealed that tumor and local cells each contribute different proteins to create ECM niches that vary from organ to organ. more...

mTOR de Force

  Congratulations to KI member David Sabatini who, along with the University of Basel’s Michael Hall, has been honored with the Sjöberg Prize from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and the BBVA Foundation’s Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Biology and Biomedicine for their discovery of the protein kinase mTOR. As a growth regulator, mTOR plays an important role in the development of cancer; the pair’s work, therefore, could pave the way for new cancer treatments. The Sabatini Lab’s recent review article in Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biologyexamines the mTOR pathway’s influence on nutrition, growth, aging, and disease.  more...

Personalized Medicine and Medleys

  Meet Swarna Jeewajee, MIT senior, soprano, and aspiring physician-scientist. She balances her work in the Hemann Lab researching therapeutic vulnerabilities in near-haploid leukemia with her a capella group Singing for Service, which performs in nursing homes and rehabilitation centers throughout the Boston area. Her passion for patient-centered medicine is informed both by her experiences as an MIT student and by her own medical history, growing up in Mauritius with a poorly understood hearing loss and a transformative surgery to correct it in 2018. more...

Battling Bias in Boston Biotech

  A survey of seven MIT science and engineering departments quantifies how many biotech startups have been lost to gender bias: 40. The study, which compared the relative proportion of female faculty members (22%) to woman-founded companies (10%), got its start at the 2018 Xconomy Prize gala. Nancy Hopkins—no stranger to measuring gender bias—told the story of a woman in venture capital who carried a list of 100 VC-funded Boston biotechs, 99 of which were founded by men. Hopkins’s KI colleagues Sangeeta Bhatia, entrepreneur and founder of Glympse Bio, and MIT President Emerita Susan Hockfield heard the speech and joined with Hopkins to brainstorm strategies for addressing this imbalance. Their conversation grew into the Boston Biotech Working Group, which carried out the survey and is spearheading several programs to boost the number of women biotech founders.  more...

Syros Begins CDK7 Inhibitor Trial

  Syros Pharmaceuticals, co-founded by Bridge Projectcollaborators Richard Young and Nathanael Gray, has launched a Phase 1 trial of SY-5609. Potent and highly selective, the drug has broad applicability across a range of cancers, including resistant and hard-to treat tumors. It targets the CDK7 gene to combat increased oncogene expression and uncontrolled cell cycle progression. more...

Trip the Light Fan-gastric

The Langer and Traverso Labs developed a light-sensitive hydrogel for gastrointestinal devices. Devices made with the gel break down when triggered by an ingestible LED, eliminating the need for surgical removal. The work, published in Science Advances, has numerous applications for long-term drug delivery, monitoring, and sensing. more...

Hojun Li Joins the KI

Welcome to Hojun Li, MD, PhD, the KI’s new Charles W. and Jennifer C. Johnson Clinical Investigator. A pediatric oncologist at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Hospital, he recently received a 2020 Scholar Award from the American Society of Hematology. 
 
Dr. Li studies normal and pathologic hematopoietic stem cell development, conditions that predispose children and adults to leukemia, and novel treatments to prevent blood cancers in these patients.    more...

A Perfect 10 for 2020

The Koch Institute is ringing in the New Year with a 10/10—again! For more than a year, the Koch Institute community has been working on the renewal process for our Cancer Center Support Grant from the National Cancer Institute. Since MIT’s then-nascent Center for Cancer Research was distinguished as an NCI-designated Cancer Center in 1974, the grant has been recompeted every five years, requiring an extensive written application (more than 1,000 pages!) and an intense site visit. Given the vulnerability of federal research funding, there are no guarantees of success. Yet not only has the Koch Institute’s grant been formally approved for renewal, but it was given a perfect score of 10. We received the same score at our last recompete, in 2014. Join us in raising a glass to our faculty members, trainees, technicians, and staff who worked so hard to put the grant together and to defend it during the site visit! more...

Mind Your PNAS QnAs

PNAS queries Sangeeta Bhatia, director of the Marble Center for Cancer Nanomedicine, on her work building protease-based diagnostic tools, including probes—potentially delivered by a nebulizer—that distinguish between benign and malignant lung nodules. Other highlights include diagnostic tools for pneumonia and a rare genetic disease called α-1 antitrypsin deficiency. more...