Emerging Cancer Labs

Cancer is one of the most researched areas in the life science and biomedical fields. We've decided to mention ten emerging labs and PIs who, in our opinion, have recently demonstrated excellence. Needless to say, there are many excellent labs which we did not include in this list.


David Langenau

The lab of David Langenau, located at the Massachusetts General Hospital, uses fluorescent transgenic zebra fish as a model organism to study the development of cancer. This powerful combination of live cell imaging within the translucent-transgenic Zebra fish enables the monitoring of fluorescently-labeled tumor cells dynamics, and was recently published in Cancer Cell.



Ross Cagan

The lab of Ross Cagan, situated in the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, utilizes Drosophila flies to perform a genetic and drug screen to identify promising drug candidates suited against targets involved in tumorigenesis. These targets are later challenged in preclinical trials and eventually to be challenged in the clinics. This methodology was shown to be effective in detecting a compound which has polypharamcological characteristics and was published recent article in Nature.


Tyler Jacks

The lab of Tyler Jacks, located at MIT (Koch institute), uses in-house generated transgenic mice strains that act as human cancer models. Through the use of these transgenic mice the lab members have revealed new molecular aspects in relation to key proteins related to cancer initiation such as p53, Ras and NF- κB. In a recent publication in Nature, the lab members used transgenic mice that were engineered to develop sarcoma cancer in-situ and demonstrated how antigenic presentation is crucial for tumor eradication by T-lymphocytes.


Mickie Bhatia

The lab of Mickie Bhatia, affiliated with McMaster University's Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute, utilizes stem cells for the purpose of understanding basic cellular mechanisms and for therapeutic purposes, one of them being cancer therapies. In their recent article in Cell, the lab members utilized their previously published discovery system to screen for anticancer compounds, discovering that an antipsychotic drug named Thioridazine has been effective in selectively impairing cancer stem cells from leukemia cancer initiation while not affecting normal blood stem cells.


Franziska Michor

The lab of Franziska Michor, with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, is focused on the evolutionary dynamics of cancer disease. The lab uses mathematical equations to plot the evolutionary path by which tumorigenesis emerges and somatic cells turn cancerous. In their recent article published in Cell, the lab members and colleagues analyzed data collected from  over 200 pancreatic cancer patients and demonstrated that it is better to treat patients with chemotherapy at earlier stages rather than resection of later stages, as the former therapy applies to both primary tumor and metastatic cells, which were shown to be evident even at earlier stages of the disease.



Pier Paolo Pandolfi

The lab of Pier Pandolfi is located at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center which is part of the Harvard Medical School.  The lab members focus on cancer genetics of several key oncogenes and tumor suppressors through the use of transgenic mouse models. In their recent article published in Cell, the lab members and colleagues generated transgenic mice which express high levels of the tumor suppressor PTEN and demonstrated that these mice exhibit resistance to tumorigenesis as well as an uncommon metabolic status due to the involvement of PTEN in metabolism both at the cytosol and nucleus level.


Atan Gross

The lab of Atan Gross, located at the Weizmann Institute of Science, is involved in understanding the balance between cell survival and programmed cell death through the use of knockout mice and cell biology techniques. The lab members focus on the key role of BID protein in these processes. In their 2010 article, published in Nature Cell Biology, the lab members demonstrated that MTCH2/MIMP binds to truncated BID and recruits it to the mitochondria for the initiation of the mitochondrial apoptosis program.



David B. Solit

The lab of David Solit, affiliated with the Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, develops cancer therapies which are mainly aimed against tyrosine kinases and steroid receptors. The lab members and colleagues recently published a paper in Nature in which they discovered a novel resistance mechanism cancer cells develop against the anti-cancer drug, Vemurafenib. They demonstrated that cancer cells avoid the drug's effect by expressing a shorter splice variant which is devoid of the drug's binding site.


Daniel Haber

The lab of Daniel Haber, located at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, is focused on understanding the genetic mechanisms underlying cancer development and progression. In an published in Nature, the lab members and colleagues described the isolation of pancreatic cancer-derived circulating tumor cells and identification of wnt gene as enriched within these cells. This and other results suggests the wnt signaling pathway may lead to metastases in human pancreatic cancer.


Michael Overholtzer

The lab of Michael Overholtzer, part of the Sloan-Kettering institute, is focused on understanding the mechanisms that govern normal cell to tumor cell conversion. The lab's major focus is on entosis, a novel cell-death mechanism which is driven by engulfing of a cell by a neighboring cell, leading to the death of both. The lab's recent publication in Nature Cell Biology demonstrates that proteins related to the autophagy cell death mechanism are targeted to single-membrane vacuoles involved in the entosis process, and demonstrating a possible role for autophagy in non-pathogenic cases.

Who would you add to the list?   Discuss in the comments below!