In honor of the five-year anniversary of the dedication of Building 76, the KI invited members of our community to participate in a special competition: 'Mission: Possible.' Six teams from labs across the KI proposed innovative research projects related to cancer prevention or early detection. The judges included some of the biggest names in biotech and venture capital: Noubar Afeyan, founder, senior managing partner, and CEO of Flagship Ventures; Deborah Dunsire, president and CEO of FORUM Pharmaceuticals; Juan Enriquez, managing director of Excel Venture Management; Terry McGuire, founding partner of Polaris Partners; Vicki Sato, professor of management practice at the Harvard Business School; and Chris Viehbacher, managing partner at Gurnet Point Capital. The competition was emceed by STAT's Megan Thielking.
The grand prize—a $300,000 one-year research grant—went to team IllumiRNA, comprised of members of the Sharp, Anderson, and Langer laboratories. They plan to develop a diagnostic platform to detect leukemia cells using simple blood tests at very early stages of the disease. The award came after a surprise funding announcement by the Advanced Medical Research Foundation for team Project Asclepius, from the Jacks and Anderson laboratories, who are working on a cancer prevention vaccine that will train the immune system to fight cancer as it does an infectious disease. See the pictures, watch the presentations, and read more.