Fisher Lab

Our group studies cell death/proliferation signals in relation to development and disease, particularly in cancer of pigment cells (melanoma) and tumors of childhood. We attempt to understand critical modes of cell homeostasis with a goal of molecular targeted therapy as well as prevention of melanoma and other human cancers


Lesions for Malignancy from Normal Development

We study biology of melanocytes as a means of identifying pathways which drive melanoma in man. This includes examination of mechanisms underlying growth/survival of benign moles, most of which contain mutations in either BRAF or N-Ras oncogenes. We also study melanocyte death in hair follicles, a process associated with hair graying. Pathways were identified which link graying to melanocyte and melanoma survival, offering potential leads for novel therapies. Other studies focus on pathways modulating melanocytic responses to environmental cues and employ oncogene-transformed melanocytic lines which exhibit growth factor independence, mimicking human melanoma in a genetically controlled manner.

Control of Life and Death in Melanoma

Malignant transformation of melanocytes produces one of the most treatment resistant malignancies in man. We have identified a transcriptional network which regulates melanoma cell survival and proliferation as well as melanocyte differentiation during development. Using diverse methods including mouse models, human tumor expression arrays and cellular assays, we examine mechanisms through which melanoma cells evade death, with the goal of improving therapy. Studies include preclinical and clinical analyses of novel melanoma treatments. We also study the role of UV in pigmentation responses and carcinogenesis, since this potentially offers novel approaches to skin cancer prevention.

MITF Transcription Factor Family In Development and Cancer

Mitf is a helix-loop-helix factor homologous to Myc, whose mutation in man produces absence of melanocytes. MITF acts as a master regulator of melanocyte development and is targeted by several critical signaling pathways. Recently, members of the Mitf family have been discovered as oncogenes in a variety of human malignancies, particularly sarcomas of childhood. Their roles in cancer as well as strategies to target them therapeutically are under active investigation. Detailed mechanistic studies focus on transcription factor interactions with chromatin, particularly positioned nucleosomes.

Contact: 617-643-5428

Group Members



David E. Fisher, MD, PhD 


Jennifer Allouche, PhD


Genevieve M. Boland, MD, PhD


 Yeon Sook Choi, PhD


Allison Dobry


Jennifer Hsiao 


Vivien Igras


Shinichiro Kato, PhD


Akinori Kawakami, MD, PhD


Lajos Kemeny, MD


Nisma Mujahid


Stephen Ostrowski, MD, PhD


 Whitney Silkworth


Mack Su


Thanh Nga Tran, MD, PhD 


Christina Weng 


Xunwei Wu, PhD








Contact Us

Cutaneous Biology Research Center

13th StreetBuilding 149 Charlestown, MA 02129
  • Phone: 617-726-4354

Directions to Charlestown Navy Yard MGH East - Building 149

From Storrow Drive

  • From the end of Storrow Drive (Leverett Circle) keep to the far right and take a sharp right (do not go up the ramp), and continue beneath the underpass one quarter mile to the light.
  • Turn left onto Causeway street under the elevated subway tracks. The Fleet Center will be on your left, the North Station T station on your right.
  • One block past the Garden, turn left on to N. Washington Street, passing over the Charlestown Bridge. 
  • At the first light after the bridge, take a right. Go through three traffic control lights. 
  • At the fourth light, turn right into Navy Yard (Gate 5 - 13th Street). To park, take first left onto Fifth Avenue. Building 149 is one block on the right.
  • The parking garage entrance is on the right about half way down the block.

From 93 North
  • Take the Mass Pike (I-90) to I-93 North (Exit 24B)
  • Take the Storrow Drive Exit (Exit 26)Stay in the left lane once getting on the exit ramp. Follow signs for North Station/Leverett Circle Go through 1 light and take left at the 2nd light (almost immediately after the first)
  • Get immediately into the right lane 
  • Take a right at the light onto Route 28N 
  • The Museum of Science will be on your left 
  • Take a right at the 3rd light (there is a sign at the corner for Charlestown) 
  • Go over the bridge and get in the right lane (City Square)
  • Take your 1st right and get into the left lane 
  • Turn left at the 2nd light (immediately before Charlestown Bridge, at City Square) onto Chelsea Street (If you go over bridge, you've gone too far). 
  • Go through three traffic control lights
  • At the 4th light, turn right into the Navy Yard (Gate 5 - 13th Street).
  • To park, take first left onto Fifth Avenue. Parking Garage entrance is on the right above half way down the block. Building 149 is one block on the right once you turn into Gate 5. Building 149 is also connected to the parking garage.

From 93 South
  • Take Exit 28 (Charlestown/Sullivan Square).
  • At the end of the exit where the read forks stay to the right and proceed past the bus terminal to the rotary at Sullivan Square.
  • Go halfway around the rotary towards Charlestown (the Schrafts building with a large American flag on top of it will be on your left).
  • Cross the railroad tracks and take a left at the fire station onto Medford Street.
  • At the end of Medford street turn left onto Chelsea Street and make an immediate right into the Navy Yard.
  • The MGH East Research Building (Bldg. 149) will be on the right and is connected to the parking garage by overhead walkways.
  • Direct the driver to the MGH East, Building 149 in the Charlestown Navy Yard.
  • The CBRC is on the 3rd Floor of Building 149.

    By Public Transportation & the MGH/Partners Shuttle
  • Take the T (Green Line) to North Station
  • Take the MGH/Partners Shuttle bus to the Charlestown Navy Yard MGH East Research Building (Building 149). 
  • The CBRC is on the 3rd Floor.
  • The MGH/Partners Shuttle bus leaves MGH on Blossom Street and stops at North Station on Canal Street by the Green Line T stop. The shuttle goes every 15 minutes during working hours. (Less often on the weekends and holidays).


  • To get to the CBRC, take the first set of elevators to the left of the main entrance by the Security Desk to the third floor. You may need to check in with security on the main level of Building 149.
  • From the elevator, exit to the East to the CBRC offices, or in the opposite direction for the laboratories.


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