The Center for Cancer Immunology’s core faculty work closely with physicians and scientists throughout Mass General and the Cancer Center.

Leadership & Core Faculty

Nir Hacohen

Nir Hacohen, PhD
Director, Center for Cancer Immunology, Massachusetts General Hospital
Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Senior Member, Broad Institute

Nir Hacohen, PhD, is Director of the Center for Cancer Immunology at Mass General and Co-Director of the Cell Circuits Program and Center for Cell Circuits at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. His work brings the powerful methods of human genetics and systems biology to the study of the immune system and cancer, and is the world’s leading researcher in systems immunology. Using these powerful methods, he has identified key molecular pathways and mechanisms underlying how we sense pathogens, how autoimmunity is initiated and what drives immune responses against tumors. He is analyzing in depth why a small number of people spontaneously eliminate their own tumors, and why some patients who receive immune checkpoint inhibitors experience impressive long-term regression of disease, while the majority of patients are mysteriously not responding to immunotherapy. Dr. Hacohen has also been developing novel vaccines to destroy almost any human cancer by detecting mutated proteins presented by the tumor. Visit the Hacohen lab.

 

Marcela Maus

Marcela Maus, MD, PhD
Director, Cellular Immunotherapy Program, Massachusetts General Hospital
Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School

Marcela Maus, MD, PhD, is Director of the Cellular Immunotherapy Program and a member of the Center for Cancer Immunology at Mass General. Her work aims to understand and engineer novel forms of cellular therapies – using cells normally produced by our bodies – to treat patients with cancer. Cellular therapies have achieved unprecedented, durable responses in some blood cancers, particularly CAR-T cell therapy in acute lymphoblastic leukemia. These results demonstrate the tremendous power of engineering the immune system to recognize and eliminate tumor cells, and effect long-term clinical benefit. However, to be able to harness this power of the cellular immune system in other cancers, there is a need to identify and validate new targets, and to develop ways of enhancing both the safety and effectiveness of imperfect targets. Dr. Maus is building the Cellular Immunotherapy Program to create new and improved treatments for patients with leukemia, myeloma and brain tumors initially, but hopes to expand the program over time to cover numerous tumor types. Visit the Maus lab.

 

Shawn Demehri

Shadmehr (Shawn) Demehri, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor of Dermatology, Massachusetts General Hospital

Shadmehr (Shawn) Demehri, MD, PhD, a member of the Center for Cancer Immunology, investigates the role of the immune system in modulating the early stages of cancer development in order to harness its anti-tumor potential to combat cancer. To date, several cancer immunotherapies have been developed with proven efficacy; however, these treatments are used mainly against late stage cancers to augment the anti-tumor immune response that has already formed against cancer cells. In contrast, Dr. Demehri’s research is focused on identifying the immune mechanisms that can prevent cancer formation from pre-cancerous lesions. This approach raises a great opportunity to discover novel immune pathways that can be leveraged in cancer therapy and prevention. Dr. Demehri is currently looking closely at CD4+ T cells and natural killer cells as activators of immunity against cancer, and is developing new therapies to stimulate these cells and stop early cancers from progressing to advance cancer. Visit the Demehri lab.

 


Collaborating Laboratories

In addition to the core faculty, there are several laboratories across Mass General that bring diverse expertise and are collaborating to advance this effort, including:

David Fisher

David E. Fisher, MD, PhD
Director, Cutaneous Biology Research Center
Massachusetts General Hospital

 

 

Gad Getz

Gad Getz, PhD
Associate Molecular Pathologist, Massachusetts General Hospital
Director, Cancer Genome Computational Analysis Group, Broad Institute

 

 

John Iafrate

A. John Iafrate, MD, PhD
Co-Executive Director, Translational Research Laboratory
Massachusetts General Hospital

 

 

Thorsten Mempel

Thorsten R. Mempel, MD, PhD
Principal Investigator, Center for Immunology and Inflammatory Diseases
Massachusetts General Hospital

 

 

Mikael Pittet

Mikael Pittet, PhD
Faculty, Center for Systems Biology
Massachusetts General Hospital

 

 


Supportive Laboratories

Immune Monitoring Laboratory

The Immune Monitoring Laboratory is an essential and integral part of the Cellular Immunotherapy Program. The laboratory provides expertise to enable translational clinical studies of immune-based therapies, based on the highest standard operating systems.