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

E. coli of duty

The fight against cancer needs all the foot soldiers it can get and the KI’s Bhatia Lab, in collaboration with UC San Diego’s Hasty Lab, has risen to the challenge. Their new recruits, genetically engineered E. coli bacteria, are carting toxic payloads into tumors and releasing them with remarkable efficiency. By capitalizing on the bacteria-friendly environment in which cancer cells thrive, the researchers are developing both diagnostic and treatment applications for these programmed bacteria, and broadening the definition of “foot soldiers” to include flagella as well. This work was supported in part by the S. Leslie Misrock (1949) Frontier Research Fund for Cancer Nanotechnology. more...

Survival of the Most Resistant

The Meyer Lab, led by KI research fellow Aaron Meyer, uses systems biology to better understand drug resistance pathways in tumors and identify commonalities between them. This work is an important part of the KI's focus on personalized medicine. The lab's latest results, published in Cancer Research, describes the role of the JNK signaling pathway in limiting the effectiveness of certain targeted therapies. Their results will inform the design of new strategies for assessing the effectiveness of combination therapy for patients. more...

Screenings to Run, Nowhere to Hide

Researchers from the Koch Institute, Broad Institute, and Brigham and Women's Hospital have developed a new, interdisciplinary approach to interrogate rare cancers in pursuit of promising therapeutic targets. By combining patient-derived models with functional genomics and chemical screens, the team aims to create detailed disease profiles to inform treatment and drug development for clinical applications. more...

Higher Yield on Your Next Vax Return

KI engineers are taking vaccination to the next level. By packaging strands of messenger RNA inside nanoparticles, researchers can generate an effective, fast-acting immune response to a variety of diseases. Unlike current vaccines, these dendrimer polymers can be fabricated in a matter of weeks, offering a customizable line of defense against outbreaks and changing biological environments. Building on their success in such areas as Ebola and H1N1, the researchers hope to apply this technology toward the treatment of Zika, Lyme disease, and, as presented in the team’s acclaimed Mission: Possible pitch this spring, cancer. more...

Bhatia Shoots for the Moon

KI faculty member Sangeeta Bhatia uses tiny technology to address large scale challenges. As such, it no surprise that she was a featured speaker at Vice President Biden’s recent summit on new initiatives for the ongoing Cancer Moonshot effort. Her talk, which focused on the combined power of computation and miniaturization, emphasized the importance of early detection and cancer prevention. Stand Up To Cancer recently profiled the event on their blog. more...

Biomedicine for the Convergent Soul

new MIT report sounds the battle cry for increased collaboration and funding of integrative research bringing together physical and life sciences. Co-chaired by KI members Tyler Jacks, KI director and the David H. Koch Professor of Biology; Susan Hockfield, president emerita of MIT; and Phillip Sharp, Institute Professor, the report builds on a 2011 white paper and cites numerous examples of ground-breaking cross-disciplinary research. The report was formally presented at last month’s Convergence Forum at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (watch presentations). The winners of the Convergence Idea Challenge, a contest for emerging researchers to push (and blur) the boundaries of their field, were also announced.

This was not the only showcase of convergent minds, however. Earlier in the month, the KI hosted another Convergence-inspired event, highlighting the hot topics of biomedicine here in the Kendall Square convergence hub. The American Association of Cancer Research also stepped up to the challenge, hosting the first ever Special Conference on Engineering and Physical Sciences in Oncology in late June. MGH’s Rakesh Jain, along with his KI Bridge Project collaborator, KI faculty member Robert Langer, the David. H. Koch Institute Professor, and Joan Brugge of Harvard Medical School, co-chaired the conference. Like the Convergence movement itself, meetings like these bring together diverse perspectives in pursuit of a common goal—advancing the future of medicine.             more...

Team Players Declared Most Valuable

Dedicated to the support of front-line research, KI administrators are often unsung heroes in the fight against cancer. However, their work does not go unnoticed. MIT recently recognized the KI HQ pre-awards staff (Mary Ellen Acone, Elisabeth Choi, and Emma Malbon) and Amanda Maffa, lab manager for the Sharp Laboratory, with “Infinite Mile” awards. Additionally, Executive Director Anne Deconinck was honored by the Boston Cannons in their inaugural “Cannons Fighting Cancer” ceremony for the impact she makes leading collaborative and communications efforts at the KI. Congratulations and thank you to all! more...

Do Viruses Make You Feel Funny?

What exactly does KI faculty member Angela Belcher do all day? This was the challenge presented to three comedians on a recent “You’re the Expert” podcast, which brings together academic experts and sharp-witted humorists for a deep, humorous dive into the inner workings of top research laboratories. Listen, laugh, and learn about Belcher’s work engineering viruses and bacteria to create new technologies. more...

Body Builders in Our Backyard

While cancer may be a disease of aging, KI faculty members Robert Langer and Leonard Guarente are keeping things young and fresh in the field of bionics. As evidenced by recent coverage in The Boston Globe, Langer clearly has his ear to the ground as he works with Harvard’s Karp Lab to develop a new pill to restart the growth of hair cells whose depletion contributes to hearing loss. As for Guarente, his spin-off company Elysium Health makes marketing of an anti-aging vitamin part of its daily workout. Along with the recently-profiled “second skin” polymer, these projects make it clear that building better bodies is part of a healthy research portfolio. more...

Taking a Stand

Researchers in the field of cancer metabolism are working to identify how cancer cells fuel their growth, and how to use this process against the disease. For his work in this area, KI member Matthew Vander Heiden, the Eisen and Chang Career Development Professor, has received a $750,000 Innovative Research Grant from Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C). SU2C's Innovative Research Grants support early career scientists focused on high-risk projects. Vander Heiden was among ten researchers nationwide to receive the award this year. Vander Heiden’s project is focused on understanding the aspects of metabolism that are essential for the growth of lung, pancreatic, and prostate cancers. This work may lead to the identification of novel drug targets and thus new treatments.   more...