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

Honey, I Shrunk the Spheroids

How does continuous low-dose chemotherapy compare against intermittent high-dose treatment when it comes to tumor shrinkage? To explore the relationship between tumor size and the efficacy of continuous low-dose chemotherapy, Cima Lab researchers grew spherical ovarian cancer cell clusters 100 or 200 microns in diameter and exposed them to different doses of cisplatin. The new study, published in Gynecologic Oncology, showed that continuous low-dose cisplatin delivery was just as effective against 100-micron tumor spheroids as a single high dose, similar to established treatment delivered by a catheter. The researchers also found that 200-micron tumor spheroids were treated more effectively with the continuous low dose than with a single dose. These findings support the strategy behind the Cima Lab's development of an origami-like, drug-loaded device that is noninvasively inserted into the abdomen and remains in place for the full treatment course — helping to alleviate serious side effects of the invasive and often intolerable intraperitoneal chemotherapy regimen for ovarian cancer while maximizing cisplatin's effectiveness. This research was supported in part by the Koch Institute and Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center Bridge Project and the Koch Institute Frontier Research Program through the Kathy and Curt Marble Cancer Research Fund. more...

Tenure, He Wrote

Congratulations to KI faculty member Matthew Vander Heiden, the Eisen and Chang Career Development Associate Professor in the Department of Biology, on being awarded tenure. One of the world's top researchers in the area of cancer metabolism, Vander Heiden holds an MD and a PhD from the University of Chicago and joined the faculty of MIT and the Koch Institute 2010. He uses mouse models to study how changes in metabolism impact all aspects of cancer progression with a goal of finding novel ways to exploit altered metabolism to help patients. more...

Cell Cycle Arrest and Immune Surveillance

Attention aneuploid cells: You have the right to remain senescent. Unless of course you begin producing pro-inflammatory signals that are recognized by the immune system. New research from the KI's Amon Lab reveals how cells containing an improper number of chromosomes — a condition known as aneuploidy — are detected and eliminated by natural killer cells following periods of genomic instability leading to cell cycle arrest (when cells become senescent, ceasing to grow or divide). These results, published in Developmental Cell, present an intriguing connection between aneuploidy and immune surveillance, and raise even more intriguing questions about how cancer cells, which are highly aneuploid, are able divide uncontrollably and escape this immune recognition. The team hopes to eventually exploit the high levels of aneuploidy observed in cancer cells as a therapeutic weakness. more...

A Banner Year for the Irvine Lab

If you thought the eight-foot tall lightboxes in the Koch Institute Public Galleries were impressive, you should see the banners in Lobby 7! Part of the MIT Better World campaign and put on display for all to admire on the eve of MIT's 2017 commencement activities, these four flags represent the four pillars of MIT's approach to improving the world — education, passion, research, and innovation. Of particular note is the research banner, which displays the 2015 KI Image Awards winner "Easy Breezy" on its 36'9" face. The image, showing microparticles designed to block metastasis to the lungs, could have been used to illustrate any of the four concepts, but we are honored that a project that combines science and engineering to improve human health has been chosen to exemplify MIT's research arm. more...

Hockfield Hall of Fame

Congratulations to KI member and MIT President Emerita Susan Hockfield for her induction into the U.S. News and World Report STEM Leadership Hall of Fame, which recognizes pioneers that have “strong track records of achievement in advancing STEM education and workforce development, and share firm commitment to developing a blueprint for the future of STEM.” Recent examples of her inspiring leadership can be seen in the Iconic Voices from MIT lecture organized by the Singapore University of Technology and Design, and her "Storied Women of MIT" video profile for Women's History Month. Read more. more...

The Life of a Pioneer

Did you know that KI faculty member Robert Weinberg once built a cabin by hand in the woods of New Hampshire? Or that during the Civil Rights movement, he housed sharecroppers in Alabama who had been evicted from their land for registering to vote? Fascinating facts, that we enjoyed learning about in a recent article by MedPage Today. In the article, Weinberg — who is widely regarded as a cancer research pioneer for his discoveries of the first human oncogene, and the first tumor suppressor gene — talks about successes and setbacks over the course of his career, reflects on his tenure at MIT as a student, member of MIT's Center for Cancer Research (predecessor to the Koch Institute), and founding member of the Whitehead Institute. more...

KI Trainee Takes on Washington

The KI Koehler Lab’s Shelby Doyle joined the MIT Science Policy Initiative on a trip to Washington, D.C. to meet with representatives and advocate for science funding. As she stepped out of the lab and onto the Hill, Doyle gained insight into the legislative process, and left inspired to partner with policymakers to further advance and better serve the science and engineering community. Read about her experience on the MIT Alumni Association blog, “Slice of MIT." more...

Farewell to a Friend

The Koch Institute remembers — with admiration, affection, and gratitude — Jennifer C. Johnson, who passed away on May 15, 2017. The wife and partner of late Koch Institute Leadership Council member and MIT alumnus Charles W. Johnson (1955), Jen shared with Chuck a commitment to service, a love of family, friends, and community, and a passion for MIT. A self-described ‘domestic engineer,’ she was also a business owner and active the Racine, WI community where she lived for many years, generously contributing her personal talents and generosity to numerous organizations. more...

Infinite sMiles All Around

Congratulations to the KI members recognized at this year’s MIT Infinite Mile Award ceremony! Mariane Melo, a research scientist in the Irvine Lab, received the award for her hard work and dedication to cultivating a positive sense of community in the lab. And (forgive us for tooting our own horn!) the KI communications team made up of Leny Gocheva, Sara Hellmold, Kelsey Montgomery, and Erika Reinfeld was recognized for strategically furthering the KI’s mission and communicating the impact of KI research to diverse audiences. Read more. more...

The Cool Nano-nerds

The KI dream team of Sangeeta Bhatia, Angela Belcher, and Paula Hammond are (as they describe themselves) "the cool kind of nerds" who are making substantial advances in cancer research on the nanoscale. Comprising half of the all-star faculty at the KI's Marble Center for Cancer Nanomedicine (of which Bhatia is the director), this power trio combines their expertise in various scientific areas and engineering disciplines to develop a theranostic platform — a combination diagnostic and therapy — made from nanomaterials to detect tumors at their earliest stages and destroy them before they become threatening. In the latest "This Moment in Cancer" segment from WBUR, these three dedicated engineers talk about the potential of nanomedicine in the fight against cancer and how, as researchers and mentors, they work to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers. more...