The David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research

Director: Tyler Jacks | Email | Website

500 Main Street • 76-158 • Cambridge, MA 02139 • (617) 253-0263

The David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research combines the faculty of the former MIT Center for Cancer Research with a remarkably diverse and distinguished group of researchers in MIT’s School of Engineering. We’re one of only seven basic research centers in the U.S. designated by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), and we work in collaboration with NCI, the Broad and Whitehead Institutes and cancer centers across the globe.

Koch Institute investigators concentrate their efforts on basic and applied research and, through strategic partnerships, on the clinical translation of MIT discoveries into the lives of cancer patients. Researchers’ achievements to date include isolating the first human cancer genes, uncovering critical aspects of lymphocyte structure and function, discovering extracellular matrix components and their receptors, and identifying the molecules that led to two of the first FDA-approved, molecularly-targeted anti-cancer drugs, Herceptin® and Gleevec®. Koch Institute inter-disciplinary teams are currently focused on five high-impact target areas:

Nanotechnology-Based Therapy

Most existing cancer drugs are dose-limited systemic toxins. Using nanoscale particles loaded with these agents, we’re building a new class of “smart bombs” for cancer that are designed to reduce the toxicity and dramatically improve the efficacy. Nanotechnology is also being advanced to develop a new class of cancer drugs based on RNAi. Once available these new products will be able to silence cancer-promoting mutations in transformative new ways.

Detection and Monitoring

Detecting cancer saves lives. A number of new approaches are being developed to improve sensitivity and selectivity in detecting early stages of cancer. Advances are also being made in the development of new clinical tools, such as implantable detection devices and new imaging systems, to assist cancer treatment and monitor remission and relapse.


Nine out of 10 cancer-related deaths are due to metastasis. Koch Institute researchers are identifying the genes that enable metastatic spread and the pathways that allow cancer cells to survive and thrive in distant tissues. These advances open the door to new ways to block the lethal consequence of metastasis.

Cancer Pathways and Drug Resistance

Every cancer is molecularly unique. Using genomic and proteomic analyses, computational modeling, and functional testing in sophisticated animal models, Koch Institute investigators are uncovering the key pathways that allow cancer cells to evade treatment; paving the way to personalized treatment.

Immunological engineering

Everyday our immune systems prevent damaged cells from expanding in number, and only when this surveillance system fails does cancer emerge. Koch Institute immunologists and biological engineers are exploring how tumors evade immune recognition, in order to develop new diagnostics and more effective treatments that harness or re-engineer the immune system to destroy tumors. 

Formally dedicated in March of 2011, the new Koch Institute facility brings biologists and engineers together in a 180,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art research complex, a new nexus for the MIT, Cambridge, and greater Boston oncology research communities. This uniquely collaborative environment is also home to the Swanson Biotechnology Center (SBC), which provides advanced technical services such as next-gen genomic sequencing, flow cytometry, micro-array analysis, histology, high throughput screening, advanced imaging and preclinical cancer models, to the MIT research community and their collaborators.