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

Young and Full of (Piezoelectric) Energy

Clear the way for this KI member's dynamic future! Canan Dagdeviren was named the winner of the Science & SciLifeLab Prize for Young Scientists in Translational Science. Canan, a postdoctoral fellow in the Langer Lab, was selected for her essay “The future of bionic dynamos”, which describes her work in creating a novel type of battery that can transform the available mechanical energy from the natural movement of organs into electric energy used to power various implanted medical devices, such as cardiac pacemakers. To honor her win, Canan was awarded a medal earlier this month in Stockholm, as well as given the opportunity to attend the 2016 Nobel Prize Ceremony. more...

Schoellhammer Makes Waves

KI researcher Carl Schoellhammer made waves last month being named the 2016 Graduate Gold Medal Winner at the Collegiate Inventors Competition for his invention SuonoCalm. SuonoCalm is a platform technology that enables the ultra-rapid delivery of therapeutics to the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and is designed to be an untroublesome device that allows patients to self-administer medication at home. Schoellhammer, a postdoctoral fellow in the Langer Lab, beat out five other Graduate finalist teams to snag the top spot and the $10,000 prize. Congratulations, Carl! more...

Cima Named 2016 NAI Fellow

Congratulations to Michael Cima, Koch Institute faculty member and David H. Koch Professor of Engineering, for being elected as a 2016 Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors — one of the highest professional distinctions for academic inventors. Following his induction in April at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, Michael will become the seventh KI member to be elected to the NAI. He joins a prestigious group that includes Angela Belcher, Sangeeta Bhatia, Robert Horvitz, Elazer Edelman, Ram Sasisekharan, and Robert Langer.  more...

Eeny Mena Miney Moe...

How do you choose the right drug for a patient? Researchers in the Gertler laboratory have been studying how varying levels of the Mena protein affect cancer cells' response to drugs used to treat triple negative breast cancer. more...

Damage Control 

What doesn’t kill cancer cells makes them stronger, or so goes the adage of chemotherapy resistance. Researchers in the laboratory of extramural KI faculty member Leona Samson have developed a new model for anticipating whether or not cells will respond to DNA-damaging chemotherapy. Using a technique designed to analyze the capacity of four DNA repair pathways simultaneously, the team successfully predicted brain tumor cells’ response to temozolomide, a first-line drug in the treatment of glioblastoma. Because many chemotherapies kill cancer cells by damaging their DNA to provoke cell death, the ability to forecast variations in cell sensitivity and DNA damage repair capacity among patients will improve the potential for personalized treatment. more...

Remembering Scientific Pioneer Susan Lindquist

The Koch Institute shares its sorrow with the MIT and scientific communities over the news that Susan Lindquist, Ph.D., Member and former Director of the Whitehead Institute, and extramural KI faculty member has passed away at age 67 from cancer. Susan was well-known as a trailblazer in the study of protein folding; her research has had profound influences in fields as wide-ranging as human disease, evolution, and nanotechnology. Our admiration for Susan goes beyond her visionary groundbreaking research. Susan was a tireless advocate for women in STEM fields, and her inspirational career is one that will be lauded for years to come. Her tenacious, vibrant, and innovative spirit was contagious, and we are incredibly fortunate to have had her as a foundational part of the KI community. "Susan was a towering figure in biomedical science, a bold and creative scientist, a wonderful mentor, a role model for women in science, and a friend,” said KI Director Tyler Jacks. "Sue will be missed greatly in our community and well beyond. Our hearts and thoughts go out to her family and to the members of her laboratory, present and past.”  Read more about Susan's life and legacy via the Whitehead Institute, The Boston Globe, The New York Times, and Cell Press. more...

Doubling Down on Immunotherapy

They say the best offense is a strong defense and cancer immunotherapy is just that—leveraging the body’s natural defense mechanisms to overcome cancer’s immunosuppressive nature. KI researchers have designed a new immunotherapy that combines strategies developed by the Irvine and Wittrup laboratories to activate both innate and adaptive immunity. Their approach, described in Nature Medicine and featured in Nature's Research Highlights, shows unprecedented results eliminating large, aggressive tumors in mice, and offers great potential for matching the current effectiveness of adoptive T cell transfer at a much lower cost, thus leveling the playing field for future patients across the board. It could also be customized to target multiple cancer types, while simultaneously training the immune system to tackle future challenges if new tumor cells return for an instant replay. more...

Paula Hammond Elected to the National Academy of Medicine

Hammond, known for her focus on polymeric materials, received this honor (considered one of the highest in health science) for her outstanding professional achievements and commitment to bettering the field of medicine. more...

Predicting Tumor Response for Personalized Cancer Care

The KI’s Manalis lab, in partnership with clinicians and other researchers working under the auspices of the KI-DF/HCC Bridge Project, has mobilized their suspended microchannel resonators to quickly and accurately analyze how mass accumulation of cells in individual patients’ tumors changes after exposure to different drugs. more...

Thinking Outside the Dish

Cell metabolism has been called the "Achilles Heel" of cancer, an opportunity to attack tumors as they consume essential nutrients to feed their hyperproliferative nature. However, many of the experiments exploring how cancer cells metabolize these nutrients are conducted in plastic dishes, several steps removed from an in vivo environment.

To more faithfully model these processes, researchers in the KI's Vander Heiden lab infused tumor-bearing mice with isotope-labeled glucose and glutamine (two important molecules for fueling cancer cell replication and proliferation) and compared their fates in both tumor and normal tissue. In both situations, glucose was converted to lactate at an expectedly elevated rate (cancerous cells are commonly observed to increase lactate production) but the cells' utilization of glutamine did not increase, a starkly different result than that observed in analogous experiments performed in tissue culture.

The conclusion that in vitro results cannot be applied uniformly to in vivo environments is not unexpected, but it is indicative of the importance of understanding the context in which metabolic processes occur. Using in vivo metabolic tracking presents an exciting opportunity for probing the metabolic properties of multiple tumor types in vivo, and can lead to novel insights into the biology of human cancers. Mouse models that faithfully recapitulate human cancers will be critical for identifying tumors' vulnerabilities within a given tissue and give researchers a "heel" up on designing therapies that target cancer metabolism.     more...