Explore This Lab

Research Projects

Lesions for Malignancy from Normal Development

The Laboratory of David Fisher, MD, PhD, at Massachusetts General Hospital studies the biology of melanocytes as a means of identifying pathways that 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 that 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 that 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 that 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.


Lab Members

David E. Fisher, MD, PhD
DFisher3@partners.org 

Jennifer Allouche, PhD
jallouche@mgh.harvard.edu

Elizabeth Byrne
ebyrne2@partners.org

 Yeon Sook Choi, PhD
ychoi13@mgh.harvard.edu

Tal Erlich, PhD
terlich@partners.org

Yang Feng
yfeng8@mgh.harvard.edu

 Laura Gee
laura.gee@mgh.harvard.edu

 Andrea Hermann
ahermann@mgh.harvard.edu

Jennifer Hsiao
hsiao@fas.harvard.edu 

Vivien Igras
vigras@partners.org

Shinichiro Kato, PhD
skato3@mgh.harvard.edu

Akinori Kawakami, MD, PhD
Akawakami1@partners.org

Lajos Kemeny, MD
lkemeny@mgh.harvard.edu

 Jun Mi
jmi@mgh.harvard.edu

Nisma Mujahid
nmujahid@mgh.harvard.edu

 Nhu Nguyen
nnguyen11@partners.org

Stephen Ostrowski, MD, PhD
sostrowski@mgh.harvard.edu

 Whitney Silkworth
silkworth@fas.harvard.edu

Mack Su
musu@mgh.harvard.edu

Thanh Nga Tran, MD, PhD
Ttran2@partners.org 

Christina Weng
Qingyu_weng@hms.harvard.edu 

Xunwei Wu, PhD
xwu7@partners.org

 Yao Zhan, PhD
yzhan3@partners.org

Publications

Complete List of Dr. Fisher's Published Works