Cancer hijacks a cell’s normal processes for its own ends, sidestepping the body’s immune system, and, too often, evading even the most promising treatments. But our researchers, who helped to define the field of cancer research, are driving a new foundation of knowledge for innovative diagnostics and therapeutics for malignancies including blood, brain, breast, and pancreatic cancers.
For example, Robert Weinberg—who discovered the first human oncogene and the first tumor suppressor gene—is learning how breast cancer cells are able to multiply prodigiously, spread, and evade the body’s natural defenses. Richard Young is conducting pioneering work on transcriptional condensates—a newly discovered aspect of the process by which cells form proteins—which could be a wholly new target for cancer treatments. David Sabatini studies the metabolism of cancer cells, learning how they co-opt standard metabolic pathways to store and transfer energy, and identifying potential ways to starve cancer cells of the nutrients they need to survive. Kipp Weiskopf is investigating how cancer cells prevent a body’s own immune system from seeing them as threats and destroying them; and he is developing new ways of prompting immune cells to attack malignant cells.
Iain Cheeseman studies the process of chromosome segregation during cell division; and his discoveries may help explain how errors in chromosome segregation can lead to leukemia and other malignancies. Jonathan Weissman, who is globally renowned for research on the cellular process of protein folding and the consequences of misfolding, develops new experimental and analytical approaches that advance research on the underlying causes of cancer and diseases. Yukiko Yamashita studies how stem cells are renewed, in normal and diseased contexts; and her work may help explain whether and how dysfunctions in the stem cell renewal process contributes to cancer cells’ ability to proliferate.