The mission of the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Cancer Research (CCR) is to understand cancer at the molecular, cellular, tissue, and whole organism levels and to apply that knowledge to advance the treatment and prevention of human cancer.
The principal goals of the CCR’s basic science faculty include:
- Identifying and characterizing novel genes and cellular processes involved in tumor cell growth, survival, and metastasis
- Exploring how changes in genes and gene regulation affect the critical pathways that are altered in tumor cells
- Learning to manipulate those pathways to combat cancer.
The CCR is the engine for discovery for the Mass General Hospital Cancer Center, consistently ranked as one of the best cancer centers in the United States by U.S. News & World Report. Working together, the CCR science faculty and the Hospital’s renowned clinical staff are recognized worldwide as pioneers in the new field of “personalized medicine.” Personalized medicine is based on the realization that every human tumor has unique characteristics, and that understanding those characteristics can provide vital information about disease progression and help predict the success or failure of today’s therapies. Researchers in the CCR are also deeply involved in the creation and development of “smart drugs” that target specific disease pathways to produce new, more effective anti-cancer drugs, potentially with fewer side effects.
The CCR has a dedicated faculty of 32 independent investigators using state-of-the-art tools in a variety of fields: genetics, genomics, developmental biology, transgenic science, cancer immunology, advanced microscopy, computational biology, protein chemistry, engineering, pharmacology, and other fields. Recruited through competitive searches from leading universities and medical schools worldwide, the CCR’s principal investigators have faculty appointments in multiple clinical and basic science departments at Harvard Medical School. Together with their trainees and students, the CCR faculty occupies a total of 60,000 square feet of laboratory space in three research facilities at Mass General Hospital (Charlestown Navy Yard, the Jackson Building, and the Simches Research Building).
Within the CCR are five programmatic initiatives designed to accelerate the pace of discovery to help future patients:
- The Center for Molecular Therapeutics (CMT)
- The Translational Research Laboratory (TRL)
- The Circulating Tumor Cell Initiative
- The Center for Computational Discovery
- The Molecular Profiling Laboratory
The unique strength of the CCR is the manner in which the CCR’s basic scientists collaborate with the Hospital’s leading oncologists and other physicians and medical professionals to meet the complex challenges presented by human cancer. At Mass General—one of the world’s most distinguished academic medical centers—the transfer of knowledge from basic research to clinical practice can happen in a matter of months, rather than the years required in many other settings.
As the engine for discovery, the CCR plays a vital role in the success of the Mass General Cancer Center. The CCR’s diverse studies using cell culture, fruit flies, mouse models, human tumor samples, computational modeling, and advanced microfluidic and robotic systems bring new promises of effective therapies and prevention for all types of human cancer.