Hematology & Oncology

Chief's Conference

A regular series of informal conversations between Dr. David Ryan, Chief of Hematology/Oncology at the Mass General Cancer Center, and a featured researcher, about their recently published work.

Dr. Ryan talks to Timothy Graubert, MD, Jon and JoAnn Hagler Chair in  Hematology-Oncology, and Program Director, Hematologic Malignancies, Cancer Center

Dr. David Ryan and Johnathan Whetstine, PhD discussing his recent publication.

Acquired chromosomal instability and copy number alterations are hallmarks of cancer. Enzymes capable of promoting site-specific copy number changes have yet to be identified. Here, we demonstrate that H3K9/36me3 lysine demethylase KDM4A/JMJD2A overexpression leads to localized copy gain of 1q12, 1q21, and Xq13.1 without global chromosome instability. KDM4A amplified tumors have increased copy gains for these same regions. 1q12h copy gain occurs within a single cell cycle, requires S phase and is not stable but regenerated each cell division. Sites with increased copy number are re-replicated and have increased KDM4A, MCM and DNA polymerase occupancy. Suv39h1/KMT1A or HP1γ overexpression suppresses the copy gain, while H3K9/K36 methylation interference promotes gain. Our results demonstrate that overexpression of a chromatin modifier results in site-specific copy gains. This begins to establish how copy number changes could originate during tumorigenesis and demonstrates that transient overexpression of specific chromatin modulators could promote these events.

Part One:


Part Two:


Dr. Ryan and Dr. Alice Shaw discuss lung cancer research and clinical advances.

Dr. Alice Shaw was the lead author/researcher on two major studies in lung cancer. The first is a Phase III randomized study comparing crizotinib with standard chemotherapy in ALK1 patients. The second is the effectiveness of crizotinb in the subset of the ROS1 mutation patient population. Both these studies were published in the June 2013 early on-line version of the New England Journal of Medicine and presented in abstract or at an educational discussion at the 2013 ASCO meeting.

Our Services

The Division of Hematology and Oncology in the Department of Medicine provides comprehensive hematology and medical oncology services. The Division, with its colleagues in other medical specialties, form the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, one of the leading cancer treatment and research facilities in New England. The Cancer Center is a founding member of Dana-Farber/Partners CancerCare - a collaboration in adult oncology among Massachusetts General Hospital, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Brigham and Women's Hospital. It is a member of the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center, which has been designated by the National Cancer Institute as a comprehensive cancer center.

The Division of Hematology and Medical Oncology offers:

  • benign and malignant hematology and solid tumor oncology
  • High-dose chemotherapy
  • Autologous and Allogeneic stem cell rescue - subjects of major research efforts
  • New treatments including trials in gene therapy and vaccine therapy as well as innovative approaches in stem cell transplantation

The institution has made a significant investment in resources designed to enhance clinical research and patient comfort and support.

The Cancer Center provides a full breadth of clinical and support services to patients, family members, and friends through a variety of multidisciplinary clinical programs focused on specific types of cancer. Members of the Division are all subspecialists; experts who focus exclusively on a specific category of diseases (such as lung or breast cancer).

Our bone marrow transplant specialists are recognized authorities in their field and work closely with our multidisciplinary clinical programs to bring our patients considerable knowledge and experience. Patients are treated in the outpatient Infusion Unit and inpatient floors and, when appropriate, in coordination with the on-site radiation therapy and surgical services.

In order to provide the best possible care to the patient, the patient's evaluation and treatment is managed by members of individual multidisciplinary clinical cancer programs that are organized by cancer diagnosis. The participation of patients in these multidisciplinary programs assures patient access to national, multi-institutional clinical trials as well as those developed and exclusively offered at the Cancer Center.


Research is an essential part of the Cancer Center's mission. For more than 70 years, the Massachusetts General Hospital has been involved in clinical and basic research related to cancer.

Medical Education

The Hematology and Medical Oncology fellowships spend six months in advanced clinical training at Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center and six months at the Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Hospital with exposure to each of the 13 treatment programs.

Back to Top