The Belfer Institute for Applied Cancer Science at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute has appointed Jessie M. English, PhD, as head of Research.
English brings extensive industry drug discovery experience to the position. Most recently, she served as the vice president of Kinase Biology at ArQule, where she was responsible target identification through product candidate selection and development support. Prior to ArQule, English was the oncology site lead for external discovery at Merck Research Laboratories, where she was responsible for driving drug discovery programs through external scientific collaborations with industrial and academic partners, including the Belfer Institute. Earlier in her career, English held leadership positions at the Pfizer Research Technology Center and Schering-Plough Research Institute.
“We are extremely pleased to have a scientist and industry executive of Jessie’s caliber join the Belfer team,” said Pasi Jänne, MD, PhD, who, together with Kwok-Kin Wong, MD, PhD, is scientific director of the Belfer Institute. “The Belfer Institute continues to collaborate closely with our pharmaceutical industry partners, Merck and Sanofi-Aventis, and to explore additional strategic partnerships that will enable us to use our unique model to integrate scientific teams, offer unparalleled access to cancer models and leverage a broad range of leading edge research capabilities – all with the goal of discovering and developing new patient treatments. Jessie will be an integral part of this research and collaboration process and we are looking forward to working with her.”
English joins a growing Belfer Institute leadership team, which also recently added Wong and Jänne, two world-renowned oncology researchers, as scientific directors. Jänne is a preeminent translational oncologist whose work has fundamentally changed the way lung cancer is treated. Wong is an internationally recognized leader in the development of mouse models of cancer and has contributed tremendously to our understanding of the origins of cancer and the molecular determinants of treatment responses.
“This is an exciting time to join the Belfer Institute and I am looking forward to working closely with our team of world-renowned researchers and industry partners to advance our innovative drug discovery programs,” said English. “More now than ever before, a collaborative approach is needed to identify the most promising early-stage biology, targets and clinical path for new oncology therapies. The Belfer Institute’s cutting-edge capabilities and its place in a network of excellence at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School uniquely position our team to drive breakthroughs in cancer treatment and for cancer patients.”
English earned her bachelor's of science degree with honors in biochemistry from Kansas State University and her PhD degree in neurobiology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She was a postdoctoral fellow at UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, where she discovered a novel mammalian MAPK pathway through the discovery and characterization of MEK5. She also discovered the WNK gene family that was subsequently determined to be responsible for a hereditary form of hypertension. English is a member of the Women in Cancer Research Leadership Council of the American Association for Cancer Research and a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Dana-Farber’s Belfer Institute for Applied Cancer Science team consists of 45 world-renowned scientists and oncology researchers. Working collaboratively together, across scientific disciplines, and closely with corporate partners, this team of distinguished faculty is driving the discovery of new cancer targets, defining the biological context of those targets and working to co-develop the next generation of novel cancer therapies.