Biomedical Research News

  • Broad Institute Collaborative Study Reveals Genetic Alterations Linked to Cancer Drug Resistance
    September 10, 2019

    A new study from a group of researchers at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), IBM Research, and other organizations compared the results of liquid and tissue biopsies from patients who were treated for gastrointestinal cancer but developed drug resistance. It revealed that liquid biopsies, a new method for sampling tumors, provide a more complete picture of the patient’s genetic diversity and how drug resistance in tumors evolves. "Remarkably, we found that nearly every patient we analyzed had developed not just one, but multiple drug resistance mechanisms simultaneously, and this may be more common than we previously thought," said Gad Getz, director of the Cancer Genome Computational Analysis Group at the Broad and the Paul C. Zamecnik Chair in Oncology at the MGH Cancer Center. " The study also suggests possible molecular mechanisms underlying drug resistance, which could point the way to new and more personalized therapeutics. The study is part of a five-year collaboration between the Broad Institute and IBM Research to analyze tumors before and after the onset of drug resistance, in order to discover underlying mechanisms driving resistance. The collaboration grew out of a cancer drug resistance and blood biopsy project supported by the Gerstner Family Foundation.

  • 2019 Gerstner Career Development Awardees Seek to Optimize Rheumatoid Arthritis and Breast Cancer Treatments

    The Mayo Clinic recently announced this year’s recipients of the Gerstner Family Career Development Awards: Dr. Elena Myasoedova, a rheumatologist at Mayo Clinic's Minnesota campus and Dr. Bhavika Patel, a radiologist at Mayo's Arizona campus. Their focus on creating tools to identify optimal treatments for rheumatoid arthritis and breast cancer, respectively. Using artificial intelligence, Dr. Myasoedova is building an algorithm that can predict an individual's response to methotrexate, the most commonly used rheumatoid arthritis medication. The algorithm would enable patients to more effectively evaluate treatment options as methotrexate is ineffective in 30% to 40% of patients and must be taken for months before doctors can determine if it's working. Dr. Patel's research team is utilizing biomarkers to more precisely determine which additional treatments would benefit an individual breast cancer patient. “Ultimately, the goal is that these biomarkers can inform personalized therapies, to improve breast cancer patients' quality of life and avoid unnecessary treatments," says Dr. Patel. Both researchers seek to apply data centric approaches to medical care, sparing patients unnecessary complications and providing enhanced disease treatment.

  • Gerstner Regenerative Medicine Initiative Improves Tracking of Patient Outcomes in Clinical Trials

    Dr. Shane Shapiro, head of the Gerstner Regenerative Medicine Initiative at the Mayo Clinic, recently developed a digital platform to track patient experience and patient outcomes for regenerative medicine procedures. The Regenerative Evidence-Based Outcomes Registry (REBO) as serves as a digital learning platform that can show prospective patients outcome data in terms of effective treatments based on clinical conditions and other factors, helping guide patient decision-making. “Unlike traditional outcomes registries, we include additional elements that incorporate ethics and social information related to health outcomes of these innovative therapies,” says Dr. Shapiro. Dr. Shapiro and his team intend to combine their real-world data with ongoing clinical studies to advance regenerative medicine therapeutics. In addition to the REBO registry, Dr. Shapiro, through the Gerstner Regenerative Medicine Initiative, is spearheading a study to develop evidence-based best practices for dosing and frequency of regenerative therapies for knee osteoarthritis. In all, the Gerstner Philanthropies Grant supports five initiatives across Mayo Clinic’s Arizona, Florida and Minnesota sites.

  • Former Gerstner Young Investigator Develops “Sensor Paint” to Diagnose Cancer, Other Illnesses

    A recent collaboration between Dr. Heller (a Gerstner Young Investigator in the 2012-2015 cohort), his team at Memorial Sloan Kettering and artist Joseph Cohen led to the development of a novel approach for detecting microalbuminuria, an early marker for several cancers, diabetes and high blood pressure: “sensor paint.” Dr. Heller’s lab first developed the paints with Mr. Cohen to show people how nanotubes work, but soon discovered their research applications; by incorporating carbon nanotubes into Mr. Cohen’s paints, a much more versatile sensor is created, enabling doctors to reliably detect microalbuminuria in urine samples rather than having to send samples to a specialized lab. The success of Dr. Heller and his team exemplifies the goal of the Gerstner Family Foundation’s young investigator awards: supporting scientists in pursuing innovative research at a crucial early stage in their careers.

  • Dr. Mehmet Erman Karasu Awarded 2019 GSK Chairman’s Prize

    Dr. Karasu, a recent graduate of the Gerstner Sloan Kettering Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (GSK), was recently awarded the 2019 Chairman’s prize for his research on meiosis, the complex cell-division process that gives rise to reproductive cells. The competitive award is presented annually and was established by GSK’s Board of Trustees Chair Louis V. Gerstner, Jr. Dr. Karasu conducted his thesis work in the laboratory of Memorial Sloan Kettering molecular biologist Scott Keeney. Dr. Karasu is now pursuing postdoctoral research at ETH Zurich.