On Cutting-Edge Cancer Research

Medical School professor George Demetri again leads cutting-edge cancer research, in an environment of timid funding for experimentation.

Associate professor of medicine George D. Demetri '78, of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, is overseeing high-risk, high-reward research being conducted by instructor in medicine Ewa T. Sicinska, according to the New York Times. In a June 28 front-page article, "Playing It Safe in Cancer Resarch: Grant Money Goes to Projects Unlikely to Break Much Ground," the newspaper's Gina Kolata documented the difficulty of securing federal funding for leading-edge research that promises breakthroughs. One example she cited was Sicinska's foundation-financed attempt to grow human cancers in mice, which would accelerate the development and testing of drugs as compared to current, more limited techniques.

Demetri's pioneering work in developing "smart" drug cancer therapies was narrated in detail by David G. Nathan '51, M.D. '55, in Harvard Magazine's January-February 2007 cover article, "Ken's Story," about a patient suffering from an abdominal cancer that was treated with Gleevec on an experimental basis. Nathan, president emeritus of Dana-Farber, has another article in the current issue of the magazine, "Lessons from an Unexpected Life," recounting his lifetime of caring for a patient with a chronic blood disorder. Both narratives detail the interaction of basic and clinical research, pharmaceutical-industry drug development, and the modern healthcare system in academic-medical settings.


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