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

Richard O. Hynes

Richard O. Hynes is the Daniel K. Ludwig Professor for Cancer Research and an Investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute 

Daniel K. Ludwig Professor for Cancer Research

Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute


KI Research Areas of Focus:

"Our laboratory is interested in understanding the mechanisms underlying metastasis, the spread of tumor cells throughout the body. We are particularly involved in studying the role of the extracellular matrix, a meshwork of proteins that surrounds both normal and tumor cells and plays many important roles in tumor progression.”

Professor Hynes is a Daniel K. Ludwig Professor for Cancer Research at MIT. He received his bachelor's and master’s degrees in biochemistry from the University of Cambridge, England, and his doctorate in biology from MIT in 1971. After postdoctoral work at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund in London, where he initiated his work on cell adhesion, he returned to MIT as a faculty member. Hynes is a Fellow of the Royal Society of London, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine. He has received the Canada Gairdner International Award, the Robert J. and Claire Pasarow Foundation Medical Research Award, the Earl P. Benditt Award from the North American Vascular Biology Organization, and the E.B. Wilson Medal from the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB). He previously headed MIT’s Biology Department, and served for 10 years as director of the MIT Center for Cancer Research. In 2014, he was named a Fellow of the American Association for Cancer Research Academy, and in 2016 an ASCB Fellow. He is currently on the Cold Spring Harbor Cancer Center Advisory Committee, the MGH Executive Committee on Research, the Rosenstiel Award Selection Committee, the Coalition for the Life Sciences, the Genentech Scientific Resource Board, and the Amgen Research Trends and Emerging Technologies Advisory Board.

Further Information

Research Summary

Most cells adhere to their neighbors and to the extracellular matrix, a fibrillar meshwork surrounding or underlying most cells in the body. Cell adhesion plays important roles in the normal functions of cells, contributing to cellular organization and structure, proliferation and survival, and gene expression. Appropriate cell adhesion is necessary for numerous physiological processes and can be perturbed in many diseases, including cancer. The Hynes laboratory seeks to understand the proteins involved in cell adhesion and the ways in which they control adhesion and migration of cells in both normal and pathological processes.

A major focus of the Hynes lab is cancer, a disease in which cell adhesion plays many important roles. Researchers in the Hynes group are particularly interested in understanding the mechanisms that control the metastatic spread of cancer cells throughout the body and the multiple functions of the extracellular matrix during cancer progression. The team is investigating changes in the tumor cells themselves and in their surrounding microenvironment, or niche, which includes both normal cells and the extracellular matrix. The matrix changes extensively during tumor progression and metastasis, and the Hynes lab is playing a leading role in analyzing these changes using proteomic methods, which reveal the full collection of proteins involved. Extracellular matrix constitutes an important part of the microenvironment of tumor cells, providing signals for their growth and survival and also contributing to the development of resistance to radio- and chemo-therapy. This resistance is one of the most challenging aspects of cancer therapy. 

For more information about Professor Hynes's research, please visit the Hynes lab webpage.

Selected Publications

Turner CJ, Badu-Nkansah K, Hynes RO. 2017. Endothelium-derived fibronectin regulates neonatal vascular morphogenesis in an autocrine fashion. Angiogenesis 20: 519-531.

Naba A, Clauser KR, Ding H, Whittaker CA, Carr SA, Hynes, RO. 2016. The extracellular matrix: tools and insights for the “omics” era. Matrix Biol. 49: 10-24.

Turner CJ, Badu-Nkansah K, Crowley D, van der Flier A, Hynes RO. 2015. a5 and av integrins cooperate to regulate vascular smooth muscle and neural crest functions in vivo.  Development 142: 797-808. 

Labelle M, Begum S, Hynes RO. 2014. Platelets guide the formation of early metastatic niches. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 111: E3053-3061.

Naba A, Clauser KR, Whittaker CA, Carr SA, Tanabe KK, Hynes RO. 2014. Extracellular matrix signatures of human primary metastatic colon cancers and their metastases to liver. BMC Cancer 14: 518.

Naba A, Clauser KR, Lamar JM, Carr SA, Hynes RO. 2014. Extracellular matrix signatures of human mammary carcinoma identify novel metastasis promoters. Elife 3: e01308.

Lamar JM, Stern P, Liu H, Schindler JW, Jiang Z-G, Hynes RO. 2012. The Hippo pathway target, YAP, promotes metastasis through its TEAD-interaction domain. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 109: E2441-2450.

Labelle M, Begum S, Hynes RO. 2011. Direct signaling between platelets and cancer cells induces an epithelial-mesenchymal-like transition and promotes metastasis. Cancer Cell 20: 576–590.

Sobolev O, Stern P, Lacy-Hulbert A, Hynes RO. 2009. Natural killer cells require selectins for suppression of subcutaneous tumors. Cancer Res 69: 2531–2539.

Hynes RO. 2009. The Extracellular Matrix: not just pretty fibrils. Science 326: 1216-1219.

Search PubMed for Hynes lab publications