microscopic image of cells with DNA in magenta and lysosomal markers on surface in green

Spring Cleaning

MIT News

Manalis Lab researchers have discovered that before cells divide, they take out the molecular trash. In a study appearing in eLife and funded by the MIT Center for Precision Cancer Medicine, the team detected a drop in the dry mass of cancer cells using a technique deploying the Manalis Lab’s signature suspended microchannel resonator. Further experimentation revealed an uptick in lysosomal exocytosis, a process where lysosomes—cell organelles that process cellular waste—jettison their contents. Because exocytosis plays a role in the development of resistance to some chemotherapies, the findings could inform new strategies for making cancer cells more susceptible to treatment.

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Creating a Cohort

MIT News

Following on last year’s boot camp, the MIT Future Founders Initiative, initiated by KI members Sangeeta Bhatia, Susan Hockfield, and Nancy Hopkins, announced its $250K prize competition to promote female entrepreneurs in biotech. KI faculty members Laurie Boyer and Kristin Knouse are among the finalists, as is KI alum Canan Dagdeviren. Learn more about the program's origins and goals in Bhatia's recent interview with the Kendall Square Association.

Mirai Goes Global


Mirai, a machine learning model for breast cancer risk prediction, is heading to seven hospitals around the world. Researchers hope to minimize Mirai’s bias by testing its performance in patient populations with diverse clinical and demographic backgrounds. The model was developed by a team led by KI member Regina Barzilay and was recently featured in The Washington Post and on Good Morning America.

Immune Cell Masquerade

MIT News

Spranger Lab researchers describe how a subset of immune cells known as type-2 conventional dendritic cells (DC2) cloak themselves in cancer-associated proteins to provoke an immune response against tumors. Their findings, published in Immunity, indicate that these stealthy operations are driven by the signaling molecule type-1 interferon, suggesting new strategies for targeted immunotherapy.

Moderna Man


Nature Biotechnology has named KI faculty member and Moderna co-founder Robert Langer among the top 20 translational researchers of 2020. In an interview with Forbes contributor Jack Kelly, Langer discusses his career path from struggling graduate student to MIT Institute Professor, reflecting on the the importance of mentorship, dreaming big, and learning how to deal with failure.

Stem Cells Loom Large as Aging Factor

MIT News

New research from the Amon Lab suggests that size is an important factor in cellular aging. The study, supported in part by the MIT Stem Cell Initiative and published in Science Advances, showed that blood stem cells grow larger as they age, and that as they grow in size, they become less able to generate new blood cells.

Fundamentally Curious

MIT Koch Institute

“The best science comes from those who are fundamentally curious.” So reads new lettering in the west wing of the Koch Institute Public Galleries, alongside a dedicated plaque celebrating the life and work of Angelika Amon. The unveiling ceremony, attended by Angelika’s family and close colleagues, also debuted a new exhibit celebrating MIT’s rich legacy of discovery science—an endeavor near and dear to Angelika’s heart—and announced the creation of the Amon Young Scientist Award to support exchange of ideas between MIT and international researchers.

Commonwealth Foundation for Cancer Research $25M gift to accelerate cancer research

MIT Koch Institute

The Commonwealth Foundation for Cancer Research has pledged $25 million to the Bridge Project, a collaboration between the Koch Institute and Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center (DF/HCC). Together with matching gifts to be raised by MIT and DF/HCC, these funds will support projects near or already in the clinic, particularly those focusing on traditionally challenging classes of cancer drug targets or on more conventional targets found in rarer forms of cancer.

Stem Cells and Colon Cancer

Spectrum MIT

MIT Stem Cell Initiative investigators Ömer Yilmaz and Alex Shalek are investigating the impacts of high-fat diets on intestinal stem cells. Applying Shalek’s single-cell sequencing tools to three-dimensional colon tumor models called organoids developed in the Yilmaz Lab, their teams seek to understand how changes induced by high-fat diets in these stem cells can lead to cancer. The work of the MIT Stem Cell Initiative is supported by Fondation MIT.

Modeling the Mechanisms of Metastasis

MIT News

A team co-led by Roger Kamm has received a $7.8 million, five-year U54 grant to join National Institutes of Health’s inaugural group of Metastasis Research Network Centers. The team will study how metastasizing tumor cells adapt to mechanical stresses, as well as how these stressors impact cell fate, including cell death, dormancy, or proliferation.

Introducing the 2021-2022 Convergence Scholars

MIT Koch Institute

The Marble Center for Cancer Nanomedicine and the MIT Center for Precision Cancer Medicine are pleased to announce the 2021-2022 class of Convergence Scholars.  CSP Scholars receive training, mentors, insights, and inroads into careers in academia, industry, health care, the policy arena, and federal research or regulatory agencies.