Matthew Meyerson, MD, PhD, named first Director of Cancer Genomics at Dana-Farber

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Reflecting the growing role of genomics in cancer research and Dana-Farber's commitment to harnessing it to improve patient care, Matthew Meyerson, MD, PhD, has been appointed the Institute's first director of Cancer Genomics.

In this new position, Meyerson, a Dana-Farber and Harvard faculty member since 1998, will be responsible for advancing basic, translational, and clinical research in cancer genomics, both at the Institute and in partnership with researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH), Boston Children's Hospital (BCH), and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, where Meyerson is an Institute member. Meyerson is also being named director of Cancer Genomics at the Broad.

The appointment is indicative of how deeply genomics – the study of all the genetic material within cells – has been integrated into cancer research, and how rapidly it is generating new treatments and diagnostic tools, Institute leaders say. Meyerson, who has been director of the Center for Cancer Genome Discovery at Dana-Farber since 2005, is uniquely qualified to lead the Institute's efforts in this area, colleagues say.

"Since the first discoveries of genes involved in human cancers, Dana-Farber has been a leader in cancer genome discovery and its translation into breakthrough therapies," says Dana-Farber President and CEO Laurie H. Glimcher, MD. "Matthew has been an innovator in experimental and computational methods in cancer genomics for two decades. His record of accomplishment, talent for collaborative work, and vision for where the field is headed and what it can achieve make him the ideal person to spearhead this new initiative."

At Dana-Farber, Meyerson and his colleagues have made major discoveries in cancer genomics, including the discovery of mutations in the EGFR gene that contribute to lung cancer; the discovery of mutations in the gene HLA-A that cause it to lose function in lung cancer and may allow the cancer to evade destruction by the immune system; and the discovery of a connection between the bacterium Fusobacterium nucleatum and colon cancer. He has been co-chair of the Executive Committee for The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) project of the National Cancer Institute and has won numerous awards, including the Paul Marks Prize in Cancer Research, which recognizes young scientists who are making seminal contributions to the understanding or treatment of cancer. In 2014, Meyerson was named the second-most influential scientist in the world in all fields of science by Thomson Reuters.

In his new role, Meyerson aims to build on Dana-Farber's position as a leader in genomic research and its application to patient care. Dana-Farber scientists have contributed to major advances in cancer genomics for more than three decades, including the discovery of human oncogenes, the understanding of DNA repair alterations in cancer, and the initial use of microarrays for genomic analysis of human cancers. They've made key contributions to cancer genome discovery by participating in the TCGA project of the National Cancer Institute, in partnership with the Broad Institute. Through Dana-Farber's Profile project, all patients at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center and Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center are eligible to have their tumor tissue tested for more than 400 genetic abnormalities related to cancer, which can guide their treatment and eligibility for inclusion in clinical trials of new targeted therapies. Since its launch in 2011, Profile has analyzed more than 20,000 tumor samples from patients treated at Dana-Farber.

As he moves into his new position, Meyerson says his vision is to engage the exceptional scientific and clinical environments of Dana-Farber and its collaborating institutions to forge one of the world's leading research programs in patient-centered cancer genomics. "Cancer genomics is undergoing a technology revolution," he observes. "Thanks to these advances, genomics exerts an ever-increasing impact on cancer diagnosis and treatment. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute is poised to make great strides as a leader in cancer genomics, to benefit our cancer patients here in Boston, and throughout the United States."

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