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

Illustration of a brain with tumor

Weighing Treatment Options

The Manalis Lab’s suspended microchannel resonator platform has been adapted into a tool for predicting patient responses to specific cancer drugs. In collaboration with the laboratory of Keith Ligon at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, researchers measured glioblastoma cells before and after treatment with the chemotherapy TMZ in order to detect tiny changes in mass which indicate treatment response. Only half of glioblastoma patients respond to TMZ, and the genetic marker for TMZ is not a reliable predictor of sensitivity for all patients. A study appearing in Cell Reports and funded in part by the MIT Center for Precision Cancer Medicine demonstrated that the method accurately predicted response to TMZ. Travera, co-founded by Manalis and Ligon, is currently testing patient samples from several cancer types with the aim of developing clinically validated lab tests. more...

Paula Hammond sits on a bench with a patterned background behind her

Leading the Way for Science and Technology

President Joe Biden has named Paula Hammond to the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. Co-chaired by MIT’s own Eric Lander and Maria Zuber, PCAST is an external advisory board providing the White House with information and policy recommendations on matters involving science, technology, education, and innovation. Hammond, a chemical engineer working in nanotechnology, brings deep expertise in solving human health and global energy challenges, as well as dedication to improving equity and representation in STEM and public health. As director Matt Vander Heiden noted in an email to the KI community, this is an incredible honor, deserving of both gratitude and congratulations. Cheers, Paula! more...

The Case for Cancer Vaccines

For immunotherapy to work, T cells must recognize cancerous proteins, known as neoantigens, produced by mutated cells. Research from the Jacks Lab suggests that natural competition between T cells responding to different neoantigens limits the overall ability of T cells to control tumors. The team's findings, published in Cell, demonstrate that therapeutic vaccines targeting neoantigens can alleviate T cell competition and may improve patient response to immunotherapies.

This work was supported in part by the Bridge Project collaboration between the Koch Institute and Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center   more...

Courtney JnBaptiste and Phil Sharp

Cultivating a Love of Science

Affection for school may not have been in Courtney JnBaptiste’s DNA growing up on a St. Lucia farm, but this KI alum found his MIT home studying microRNAs in Phil Sharp’s lab—first as a high school student and then as a graduate student. Today, he is a patent agent, helping to transform laboratory discoveries into therapeutic practices.  more...

Digging Deep to Fight Covid and Cancer

KI member Regina Barzilay is one of the authors of a PNAS paper describing the use of deep learning models to identify synergistic drug combinations and drug-target interactions to combat Covid-19. The group's algorithmic approach is also being used to identify potential therapeutic combinations against pancreatic cancer. more...

green cells among red blood cells labeled with green numbers 1, 2, 3, 4

The Ins and Outs of Metastasis

The Manalis Lab, in collaboration with the Jacks Lab, uses a novel cell-counting device to measure the frequency at which tumors shed circulating tumor cells into the bloodstream and how long these CTCs remain in circulation before being cleared by the body. The team's findings, published in Nature Communications, offer a detailed view into the dynamics of metastasis and lay the groundwork for analyzing drug response in real time. This work was supported in part by the Ludwig Center at MIT. more...

Forest fire on a hill over a city

Forest vs. Fires

Signaling expert Forest White has begun applying his signature analytical techniques to investigate how environmental factors affect cancer development and progression. A recent modeling study challenges current thinking about carcinogenic compounds called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are released whenever organic matter is burned, including in wildfires, driving, and cooking. The MIT team’s findings, published in GeoHealth, suggest that the PAH historically used to inform regulatory standards may be inadequate for assessing global cancer risk. more...

Sachin Bhagchandani in the lab smiling

Congratulations, Sachin!

Cheers to graduate student Sachin Bhagchandani, the first at MIT to win the National Cancer Institute Predoctoral to Postdoctoral Fellow Transition Award (F99/K00)! Collaborating with the Johnson, Irvine, Langer, and Spranger Labs, Bhagchandani combines immunology and polymer chemistry to develop a drug delivery system that makes certain kinds of cancer immunotherapies less toxic. more...

Pancreatic organoids

Copy That

Griffith Lab researchers have developed a new way to grow tiny replicas of the pancreas. These “organoids,” described in Nature Materials, can be grown from healthy or cancerous cells and could help researchers develop and test potential drugs for pancreatic cancer—one of the most difficult types of cancer to treat. more...

Diagram of stem cells initiating tumor formation

Diet, Cancer, and the Microbiome

Over the years, researchers in the laboratory of Ömer Yilmaz have uncovered important clues into the connections between diet and cancer, with recent work focusing on the role of intestinal stem cells on tumor initiation under various dietary conditions. In a study published in Cell Stem Cell, the lab examines the impact of high fat diets on gut microbes and their interactions with both stem cells and immune cells. The findings suggest that such perturbations to the microbiome significantly dampen immune recognition of premalignant intestinal stem cells, leading to increased tumorigenesis. more...