Health and Fitness

Koch Institute, Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center Announce Launch of ‘Bridge Project’ to Attack Most-lethal Forms of Cancer

Institutions, research teams, non-profit organizations join forces in novel approaches targeting pancreatic cancer, glioblastoma.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.–(ENEWSPF)–March 6, 2012.  The David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT and Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center (DF/HCC) announced today that they have funded several research teams in a joint collaboration aimed at solving the most intractable challenges in cancer.

The Bridge Project — an unprecedented clinical research collaboration between MIT and DF/HCC — has awarded grants to four interdisciplinary teams made up of biologists, bioengineers and clinical researchers representing both cancer centers. Each joint team is focused on improving the prognosis facing patients affected by two of the most-lethal cancers today: pancreatic cancer and a form of brain cancer, glioblastoma.

The Bridge Project grants represent the most extensive collaboration of its kind between Boston’s two National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated cancer centers. In addition to individual philanthropists Arthur Gelb and Thomas Peterson, key support for the initiative comes from two leading innovative non-profit cancer research organizations: The Lustgarten Foundation, the nation’s largest private foundation dedicated solely to funding pancreatic cancer research, and the National Brain Tumor Society.

“We have made tremendous advances in many cancers in recent decades, but pancreatic cancer and glioblastoma remain exceedingly difficult to treat,” said David Livingston, deputy director of Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center. “From a clinical perspective, we are eager to gain a more sophisticated understanding of the underlying biology that’s driving these diseases, and to work with leading scientists and engineers to design fresh approaches for how we might intervene.”

“We believe that success against cancer will come if we apply the same creativity and innovation to the research enterprise that we do to the research itself,” said Tyler Jacks, director of the Koch Institute. “New kinds of interdisciplinary collaboration are absolutely essential in order to rapidly translate research discoveries into clinical strategies that will benefit patients in the near-term. We are very excited to work with Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center, with the help of visionary philanthropists and support of two leading research organizations, to make this program a reality.”

The initial grant recipients were selected by an external advisory team that provided rigorous, expert review of more than a dozen proposals submitted by faculty from both institutions for consideration in this round of funding. The external advisers selected those projects that they believe have the greatest potential of generating high-impact clinical outcomes in the future.

The Bridge Project aims to raise and deploy $50 million over the next three to five years into additional research teams focused on potentially transformative initiatives.

The teams receiving grant funding in this first round include:

  • Keith L. Ligon (Dana-Farber), J. Christopher Love (Koch Institute at MIT), Matthew Meyerson (Dana-Farber and Broad Institute) working on single-cell functional, genomic and transcriptonic analysis in glioblastoma;
  • Rakesh K. Jain (Mass General Hospital) and Robert S. Langer (Koch Institute at MIT) working on angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) as a novel approach to improve drug delivery in the treatment of pancreatic cancer;
  • Jeffrey W. Clark (MGH), Robert S. Langer (Koch Institute at MIT), Elazer Edelman (Harvard:MIT HST Program) working on the development of a pancreatobiliary chemotherapy eluting stent for pancreatic ductal adenocarcinomas;
  • Hidde Ploegh (Whitehead and Koch Institutes), Kai W. Wucherpfennig (Dana-Farber), and J. Christopher Love (Koch Institute at MIT) working on novel immunotherapies against pancreatic cancer.

About Glioblastoma multiforme
Glioblastoma multiforme is the most common and most malignant of the glial tumors, with approximately 10,000 new cases diagnosed each year in the United States. With current treatments, the one-year survival rate for glioblastoma is approximately thirty percent, and the five-year survival rate is less than three percent.

About Pancreatic Cancer
Pancreatic cancer is swift and silent, often undetected until it’s too late. More than 37,000 people will die from it this year. The overall five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer is six percent and most with advanced cancer die within a year. There are no early detection tests, no effective treatments and, unless the cancer is surgically removed in its earliest stages, no cure. It is the fourth-leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States.

About the Koch Institute
The mission of The Koch Institute is to apply the tools of science and technology to improve the way cancer is detected, monitored, treated and prevented. The Koch Institute brings together scientists and engineers in a state-of-the-art research facility. By promoting interdisciplinary collaborations and working with clinicians and industry partners, the mission of the Koch Institute is to solve the most intractable problems in cancer through advanced science and technology. A National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center, the Koch Institute is also the organizing body for cancer research on the MIT campus.

About Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center
Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center (DF/HCC) is the largest comprehensive cancer center in the country, bringing together the cancer research efforts of seven member institutions: Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Children’s Hospital Boston, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, Harvard School of Public Health, and Massachusetts General Hospital. Funded by a grant from the National Cancer Institute, DF/HCC consists of more than 1,000 researchers with a singular goal—to find new and innovative ways to combat cancer.

About The Lustgarten Foundation
The Lustgarten Foundation is America’s largest private foundation dedicated solely to funding pancreatic cancer research. Based in Bethpage, New York, the Foundation supports research to find a cure for pancreatic cancer, facilitates dialogue within the medical and scientific community, and educates the public about the disease through awareness campaigns and fundraising events. The Foundation has provided millions of research dollars and assembled the best scientific minds with the hope that one day, a cure can be found. And because Cablevision Systems Corporation, a leading media and telecommunications company, underwrites all of The Lustgarten Foundation’s administrative costs, 100 percent of every dollar donated to the Foundation goes directly to pancreatic cancer research. Learn more at

About the National Brain Tumor Society
National Brain Tumor Society (NBTS) is a nonprofit organization committed to finding a cure for brain tumors. We aggressively drive strategic research, advocate for public policies that meet the critical needs of the brain tumor community, and provide trustworthy patient information. Formed in 2008 by the merger of two leading organizations that had served the brain tumor community, the NBTS is the largest brain tumor nonprofit organization in the country. Headquartered in Watertown, Massachusetts, with offices in San Francisco, California and Wilmington, Delaware, we host activities throughout the United States.