NCI Cancer Bulletin: A Trusted Source for Cancer Research News
NCI Cancer Bulletin: A Trusted Source for Cancer Research News
January 24, 2006 • Volume 3 / Number 4E-Mail This Document  |  Download PDF  |  Bulletin Archive/Search  |  Subscribe

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Cancer Center ProfileCancer Center Profile

MIT Center for Cancer Research
Director: Dr. Dr. Tyler Jacks • 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Room E1 7-11 0, Cambridge, MA 021 39-4307 • Phone: 617-253-6403 • Web site: http://web.mit.edu/ccr/

The MIT Center for Cancer Research Background
Since its founding in 1974 by Professor and Nobel Laureate Dr. Salvador Luria, the MIT Center for Cancer Research (CCR) has been funded by NCI as a basic-science Cancer Center. Its mission is to apply the tools of basic science and technology to understanding how cancer is caused, progresses, and responds to treatment. The MIT CCR currently has 30 members, including 2 Nobel laureates, 12 members of the National Academy of Sciences, and 5 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators. Its overall work force has approximately 500 staff, including more than 175 postdoctoral fellows, more than 175 graduate students, and approximately 75 undergraduate students. In addition to their research in areas such as cancer biology, chemistry, engineering, and computer science, most of the Center's faculty members collaborate on research with outside clinical centers and hospitals.

Research Activities
Investigators at the MIT Center for Cancer Research conduct basic-science research. In addition to working with material from human tumors and tumor-derived cell lines, MIT CCR investigators work with mice, fruit flies, zebra fish, and yeast - organisms in which the fundamental cellular processes are shared with humans - to help answer questions about the development and behavior of cancer cells in human patients.

Using this approach, the MIT CCR has pioneered technologies that are now part of the standard practice in cancer research and patient treatment. Some examples include identifying the first oncogene, cloning the first tumor suppressor gene, and transforming the first normal human cell into a cancer cell. By identifying the molecules Abl and Her2/neu as potential targets for cancer therapy, MIT CCR researchers helped lay the groundwork for the development of the cancer drugs Gleevec (imatinib) and Herceptin (trastuzumab), respectively.

Other Notable Programs
The MIT Center for Cancer Research is part of NCI's Mouse Models of Human Cancer Consortium, a group of investigators at more than 70 institutions worldwide that collaborate on the development, characterization, and distribution of mouse cancer models for the benefit of the broader scientific community.

The MIT CCR also participates in the NCI Integrative Cancer Biology Program. This program involves a multi-investigator grant to support the application of mathematical and computer-modeling methods, such as those common in the engineering disciplines, to the study of cancer. MIT is one of only nine centers in the country that receive funding from this NCI initiative.

The MIT CCR also administers the MIT-Harvard Center for Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence, one of only seven that are funded by NCI. Through this initiative, researchers at MIT are pursuing nanotechnology that will enable cancer detection and monitoring, as well as allow targeted delivery of drugs and imaging agents.