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Laura MacConaill, PhD


  • Principal Research Scientist, Harvard Medical School
  • Scientific Director, Personalized Cancer Medicine Partnership
  • Scientific Director, Center for Cancer Genome Discovery

Contact Information

  • Office Phone Number(617) 582-7754
  • Fax(617) 394-2797


Dr. MacConaill is the Scientific Director of the Center for Cancer Genome Discovery (CCGD) at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and the Scientific Director of the Personalized Cancer Medicine Partnership (PCMP), a collaborative venture between Brigham and Womens Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. She is a Principal Research Scientist at the Dana-Farber, Harvard Medical School, and an affiliate member of the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT.

Dr. MacConaill received her BSc in Microbiology in 1998 and her PhD in Molecular Biology from the National University of Ireland, Cork, in 2003. She conducted her postdoctoral studies with Dr. Matthew Meyerson at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and joined the Center for Cancer Genome Discovery in 2006.

As the Scientific Director of CCGD, Dr. MacConaill leads the Center in developing new technologies for the analysis of cancer genomes and to provide access to these technologies to investigators at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center, Harvard Medical School, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and other partnerships nationally and internationally. The CCGD also works at the forefront of translational cancer technologies and applications, transferring cutting-edge technologies to the clinical setting of PCMP to guide patient treatment options.


Center for Cancer Genome Discovery Personalized Cancer Medicine Partnership, Precision Cancer Medicine

The overall mission of the CCGD is to develop new technologies for the analysis of cancer genomes and to provide access to these technologies to investigators at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center, Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In this latter role, CCGD participates in the design, execution and analysis of both single gene and whole genome focused projects. More specifically, we have engaged in projects focused on the discovery of genomic alterations that contribute to human cancer, the evaluation of the clinical significance of these alterations in the setting of experimental therapeutic trials and the identification of approaches to identify such mutations retrospectively and prospectively in cancer patients. In collaboration with several groups in Medical Oncology, we have pioneered the development of a standard genotyping technology for the purpose of somatic mutation profiling of oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes in various cancers. For several years, members of CCGD have optimized this mass-spectrometric based genotyping to profile archival (i.e. formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded) tissue samples (MacConaill et al., 2009). We have also developed mass-spec genotyping to look at other types of alterations that cause cancers- copy number changes, epigenetic modifications such as methylation of genes, as well as optimizing the technology to look at very subtle differences in gene expression in a quantitative manner. The CCGD, has completed over 70 projects with scientists and clinicians in the Boston area and beyond. We currently have active collaborations with England, Australia and Germany, in addition to many local and national projects; several of which have yielded high-profile and groundbreaking data (Min et al., 2010 Nature Medicine; Ahmadiyeh et al., 2010 PNAS; Badalian-Very et al., 2010 Blood). The CCGD and a program in Pediatric Low-Grade Astrocytomas directed by Mark Kieran and Charles Stiles in the Neuro-Oncology Program at DFCI have worked closely to identify druggable alterations in pediatric LGAs. Our work has set the stage for CLIA-certified assays on the activated BRAF oncoprotein that is found in a subset of pediatric LGAs. The CCGD continues to work at the forefront of translational cancer technologies and applications. In a joint venture between Dana-Farber and Brigham and Women's Hospital, the CCGD technologies are translated in a clinical setting, the The Personalized Cancer Medicine Partnership (PCMP). The mission of the PCMP is to advance translational and personalized cancer medicine by implementing tumor genomic profiling on all cancer patients treated at these institutions. PCMP will employ state-of-the art technology to generate a detailed profile of key "druggable" or otherwise "actionable" cancer genomic alterations in a CLIA-approved and "real-time" process to facilitate rapid clinical application. These cancer genomic profiles with be used to guide patient treatment and/or stratification for clinical trials of novel anticancer agents.

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