If you can spare a few minutes, please help us improve our website by completing this survey.

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

In the News

Angelika Amon

Remembering Angelika 

The Koch Institute mourns the loss and honors the life of Angelika Amon, professor of biology and Kathleen and Curtis (1963) Marble Professor of Cancer Research, who died on October 29, 2020, at age 53, following a two-and-a-half-year battle with ovarian cancer. A pioneer in the study of aneuploidy, Amon made profound contributions to our understanding of the fundamental biology of the cell and the role of chromosome mis-segregation in cancer. Throughout her career, she inspired others with her characteristic perseverance, curiosity, and enthusiasm for discovery, and her broad interest in the world around her. Amon was a dedicated mentor and a fearless advocate for science and the rights of women and minorities. Her deep network of scientific collaborations and friendships reflects the light and passion she brought to every endeavor, both in and beyond the laboratory. Notes Koch Institute director Tyler Jacks, “Angelika was a force of nature... and has made an incredible impact on the world—one that will last long into the future.” more...

convergence scholars logo with photos of researchers above and below it

Introducing the 2020-2021 Convergence Scholars

The Marble Center for Cancer Nanomedicine and the MIT Center for Precision Cancer Medicine are pleased to announce the 2020-2021 class of Convergence Scholars. The Convergence Scholars Program (CSP) provides postdoctoral trainees with opportunities to further their experiences and skills beyond the research laboratory. Scholars will learn more about science project development, policy, technology transfer, education and outreach, business and finances, industry, and the clinic. more...

Jacks to Step Down

Tyler Jacks will step down from his role as director, pending selection of his successor. Jacks, a David H. Koch Professor of Biology and Daniel K. Ludwig Scholar, has served as director for more than 19 years, first for the MIT Center for Cancer Research (CCR) and then for its successor, the Koch Institute. 

“Tyler Jacks turned the compelling idea to accelerate progress against cancer by bringing together fundamental biology, engineering know-how, and clinical expertise, into the intensively collaborative environment that is now the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research,” says Susan Hockfield who, as then-MIT President, strongly supported the Koch Institute’s formation. “His extraordinary leadership has amplified the original idea into a paradigm-changing approach to cancer, which now serves as a model for research centers around the world.”

During his tenure, Jacks and his colleagues shepherded the creation of numerous centers and programs to support cross-disciplinary research in high-impact areas and expedite translation from the bench to the clinic. Institude Professor Phillip Sharp, a Nobel laureate and himself a former director of the CCR, will lead the search for the next director of the Koch Institute, with guidance from noted leaders in MIT’s cancer research community.

After Jacks steps down, he will continue his research in the areas of cancer genetics and immune-oncology and his teaching, while also stewarding the Bridge Project into its second decade. more...

illustration of peptide binding on the surface of yeast

Binders Keepers

The Birnbaum Lab has developed a new platform that may help researchers better understand and predict how the immune system recognizes pathogens and cancerous cells. Described in Nature Communications, the platform identifies peptides able to bind class II major histocompatibility complexes (MHC-II), molecules that present protein fragments on cell surfaces. If CD4+ helper T cells recognize these complexes, they activate the immune response. The yeast-display-based approach has identified more unique MHC-II binders than comparable approaches, paving the way for improved accuracy of MHC-II binding prediction algorithms. The technology can be used to guide future selection of targets for CD4+ T cell recognition in cancer and beyond. more...

Á la CAR-T

The Chen Lab has identified a promising target for CAR-T cell-based therapies for acute myeloid leukemia (AML). CAR-T cell-based therapies have produced remarkable responses in patients with certain blood cancers, but translating that success to other cancers has proven challenging, due partly to off-target toxicity and the development of resistance to the treatment. In a study appearing in Nature Biomedical Engineering, researchers circumvented both of these outcomes in cell lines and mouse models of AML by targeting a mutant form of the gene NPM1c that is only expressed in cancer cells. The Chen Lab will adapt this approach to target NPM1c using natural killer cells (CAR-NK), with support from the Koch Institute Frontier Research Program through the Michael (1957) and Inara Erdei Fund and the Kathy and Curt Marble Cancer Research Fund. more...

illustration of improved resolution using SeqWell S3 technology

SeqWell S3: Better Than the Original

Shalek and Love Lab researchers have increased the resolution on their signature high-throughput single-cell RNA-sequencing platform using a simple molecular biology trick known as "second-strand synthesis." The new and improved Seq-Well S3, described in Immunity, provides a five- and tenfold increase in identification of genes and RNA transcripts, respectively, and was applied to characterize various inflammatory skin conditions. The team is also using the technology to profile cancer cells, supported in part by the Bridge Project. more...

Breaking Up Isn't Hard to Do

Cell division may look like hard work, but a team led by the Manalis Lab and including the Vander Heiden and Yaffe Labs found that mitosis may take much less energy than expected. In a study appearing in Nature Communications, researchers measured the membrane potential of mitochondria (the powerhouses of the cell) at single-cell resolution and then, using an “electrical circuit” mathematical model, estimated that mitochondria produce ATP (the cell’s primary fuel) about half as quickly during mitosis than outside mitosis.

This study was supported in part by the Koch Institute Frontier Research Program through the Kathy and Curt Marble Cancer Research Fund, the MIT Center for Precision Cancer Medicine, the Lustgarten Foundation, and the Ludwig Center at MIT. more...

Michael Birnbaum at a laptop

NIH Honors Transformative Potential

Congratulations to Michael Birnbaum on receipt of a National Institutes of Health New Innovators Award for his work using peptide-MHC lentivirus display to identify repertoire-scale T cell antigens. Administered through the High Risk, High Reward program, the award celebrates highly innovative and unusually impactful research by extraordinarily creative early career scientists. Birnbaum, who joined the Koch Institute faculty in 2016, uses protein engineering, structural biology, and bioinformatics to understand and manipulate immune-cell recognition and signaling. more...

Rising Stars

Endpoints named Kronos Bio as one of 11 most promising startups in biotech. Built on high-throughput screening techniques developed by MIT Center for Precision Cancer Medicine member Angela Koehler, the company takes aim at “undruggable” cancer targets. Skyhawk, which draws on the research and expertise of several KI members, also made the list. more...

Advancing AI in Medicine

KI member Regina Barzilay is the first-ever winner of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence’s Squirrel AI Award for Artificial Intelligence for the Benefit of Humanity, a new $1 million prize to honor individuals whose work in the field has had a transformative impact on society. Barzilay is being recognized for her work building machine learning models to develop antibiotics and other drugs, and to detect and diagnose breast cancer at early stages. In 2019 she spoke at the Koch Institute’s with/in/sight lecture series about her collaboration with MGH’s Constance Lehmann to improve mammography through artificial intelligence and co-chaired the Koch Institute's annual summer symposium, on the integration of machine learning and cancer research. In addition to her own laboratory research, she is also working to make her diagnostic tools available for underprivileged populations around the world. more...