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Our Cooperation with the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT

The Misrock Foundation finances the 'S. Leslie Misrock Frontier Research Fund for Cancer Nanotechnology' at the David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT.

Since 2010, Misrock Fellows at Koch Institute have made promising advances in nanotechnology-based cancer research. The foundation's support has enabled dedicated young scientists to push forward the frontiers of cancer research through new methods of drug delivery systems, therapeutics, and new technologies. At the same time the foundation's assistance advances innovative research, it also propels the career development of its fellows. The Misrock Fellowships thus form a bright example of cutting-edge cancer research at MIT.

Over the last five years, funding from the Misrock Foundation has supported some of the Koch Institute’s most exiting and innovative cancer research, and some of our most promising trainees. Already, many of these young people are out in the world developing new solutions for the problems of cancer, usually while maintaining active collaborations here at MIT.

News Reports

June 2018

Final Report Misrock Fellows 2017

Cover Letter by Tyler Jacks for the final reports on the work of Misrock Fellows 2017, Yulia Rybakova and Pedro Pires Goulart Guimaraes, announcement of new Misrock Fellows for 2018, Jason Chang and Lei Miao.
Read Cover Letter Final Report 2017 (PDF; 139 KB) >

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Jason Chang, Misrock Fellow 2018

Research Project:

Microneedle-based detection of cell-free microRNA biomarkers in interstitial fluids: a minimally invasive diagnosis and management of malignant breast cancer

Jason Chang is a member of the laboratory of Koch Institute faculty member Darrell Irvine, and is working to adapt a microneedle technology developed by the Irvine group for use in monitoring patients with triple negative breast cancer. Triple negative breast cancer is an aggressive tumor, shows limited response to current therapies, and carries a high risk of early recurrence. However, the only way to detect tumor recurrence currently is by invasive tissue biopsies. Jason is developing a platform that uses the microneedles – essentially a patch with painless, microscopic needles on one side – as a basis for sampling and sensing circulating microRNAs, or fragments of genetic information, associated with triple negative breast cancer. Expression patterns of these cell-free circulating microRNAs are emerging as a way to provide valuable insight regarding disease progression and responsiveness to treatment therapies. His strategy aims to overcome major challenges in other systems for detecting tumor-associated microRNAs, and could enable minimally-invasive longitudinal monitoring of triple negative breast cancer's progression toward metastasis and its response to therapies.

Jason conducted his doctoral studies in bioengineering at Imperial College London. An image from one of his earlier research projects – a nano particle vaccine to jumps tart the immune system against HIV-was selected as a winner of the 2018 Koch Institute Image Awards; it currently hangs in our public galleries and is featured online, along with a video of Jason describing the image. See the image (MIT website) >

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Lei Miao, Misrock Fellow 2018

Research Project:

Immunomodulatory Lipid-library for mRNA Cancer Vaccine Delivery

A postdoctoral researcher in the laboratory of Koch Institute faculty member Daniel Anderson, Lei is working to develop and test new, lipid-like materials to more effectively deliver therapeutic messenger RNAs, or mRNAs.

mRNAs hold a great deal of promise for treating many diseases including cancer, where several mRNA properties make it ideal for use in developing new immunotherapies and inducing strong anti-tumor immune responses. However, a few key challenges remain to getting mRNA-based therapies into the clinic. First, mRNAs need to be protected to avoid being broken down in circulation, and second, even when mRNAs are successfully delivered they sometimes can't mount a strong enough response. The Anderson lab has a great deal of expertise in developing lipid-like delivery materials that can help protect and target therapeutic cargo. Building on this expertise and, aided by a materials synthesis innovation she devised, Lei is taking a systematic approach to developing and testing a library of materials that can both potently deliver mRNA into cells and, by nature of their physical structure, boost immune response. Lei holds a doctoral degree in pharmaceutical studies from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.

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April 2017

Final Report Misrock Fellows 2016

Cover Letter by Tyler Jacks for the final reports on the work of Misrock Fellows 2016, Neelkanth Bardhan and Li Gu, announcement of new Misrock Fellows for 2017, Yulia Rybakova and Pedro Pires Goulart Guimaraes.
Read Cover Letter Final Report 2016 (PDF; 878 KB) >

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Yulia Rybakova, Misrock Fellow 2017

Research Project:

Combinatorial nanotherapeutic approach to improve liver cancer treatment in vivo

Yulia Rybakova is a member of the laboratory of Koch Institute faculty member Daniel Anderson and, in her fellowship project, is working to develop and test a combinatorial nanotherapeutic approach for a form of liver cancer. Hapatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most common liver cancers, comprising more than two-thirds of all cases, and has a median survival time for patients of just 6 to 20 months from diagnosis. This poor prognosis is attributed in part to the speed and frequency with which patients develop resistance to standard chemotherapy with nanoparticle-formulated siRNAs, ones that knock down genes crucial to the tumor’s ability to resist chemotherapy. Succesful development of this and other new approaches will ultimately help to circumvent cancer drug resistance, to advantage existing HCC treatment options, and to improve overall patient survival.

Yulia holds a graduate degree in cell biology and histology from Lomonosov Moscow State University, and a doctoral degree in biochemistry from the Russian Academy of Sciences, both in Moscow; she also received an award from the Fulbright Foreign Students Program to support a year as a visiting researcher in the University of Iowa’s Free Radical and Radiation Biology Program. In her free time she enjoys dancing tango, and serves as a board member of the MIT Tango Club.escribing his work at the Image Awards program by clicking the ‘watch’ tab above the image.

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Pedro Pires Goulart Guimaraes, Misrock Fellow 2017

Research Project:

A bone marrow-targeting polymer-lipid nanoparticle platform to disrupt multiple myeloma progression via RNAi

A member of the laboratory of Koch Institute faculty member Robert Langer, Pedro Pires Goulart Guimaraes is developing a nanoparticle platform to deliver RNAi therapeutics to a novel target in multiple myeloma, which is an incurable hematologic cancer characterized by accumulation of plasma cells in the bone marrow. Whereas tumor progression has been traditionally viewed as a process intrinsic to tumor cells, recent research has shown that bone marrow microenvironement components, specifically a signalling molecule secreted by some bone marrow endothelial cells, actually provides the conditions that encourage multiple myeloma cells to home to, colonize and proliferate in the bone marrow.

No conventional, or small molecule, drugs are known to inhibit this molecule, so Pedro is working to create and test a nanoparticle platform that can deliver siRNA to shut it down. It is worth noting here that, in published research targeting RNA to lung endothelial cells, the Langer laboratory has achieved some of the most potent RNAi gene-silencing to date in non-liver tissues, and Pedro will be adapting that technology for this project. He is also partnering with a clinician at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, and expects that positive results from this project will be translated into clinical trials to be carried out by his collaborator.

Pedro earned his doctoral degree in chemistry from the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais in Brazil; he holds degrees in pharmacy and biopharmaceutical innovation from the same institution. In addition to his work as a researcher, he has worked in intellectual property development for the biotechnology sector.

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February 2016

Final Report Misrock Fellows 2015

Cover Letter by Tyler Jacks for the final reports on the work of Misrock Fellows 2015, Vikash Chauhan an Mohiuddin Quadir, announcement of new Misrock Fellows for 2016, Neelkanth Bardhan and Li Gu.
Read Cover Letter Final Report 2015 (PDF; 316 KB) >

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Neelkanth Manoj Bardhan, Misrock Fellow 2016

Research Project:

Nanomaterial-based real-time imaging for improved tumor detection and enhanced survival in ovarian cancer patients

Neel, as he is known, is a member of the laboratory of Koch Institute faculty member and materials scientist Angela Belcher. A nanotechnology expert, Professor Belcher developed a flexible platform of engineered bacteria, specifically M13 bacteriophages, and has adapted it to create solutions for electronics, sustainable energy fuels and batteries, and for cancer. Most notably, Professor Belcher has used these nanoparticles to create a safe, highly sensitive, non-invasive, and inexpensive imaging and detection system capable of revealing tumors smaller than a millimetre in size, even in deep tissue. The tiny probes are effective even at low doses, seeking out tumors and adhering to them, then rendering them visible to special light, detected through a camera that forms part of a custom-designed second-near-infrared-window imaging instrument devised by Professor Belcher and her group.

With the support of the Misrock Foundation, Neel proposes to design, prototype and test a human-scale version of the imaging system, for use in a small-scale, first-in-human clinical trial with his MGH partners. Additional aims of his fellowship proposal include some refinements to targeting methods and materials used in the imaging nanoparticles. We are extraordinarily eager to see the translation of this technology for human clinical use, and this is a critical phase in reaching that goal.

A native of India, Neel holds undergraduate and master’s degrees in material science from the Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai, and earned his doctoral degree in the same field here at MIT last year. He has taken every opportunity to get involved in the Koch Institute and MIT communities.

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Li Gu, Misrock Fellow 2016

Research Project:

Targeted multifunctional nanoplatform for combinatorial cancer therapy

Li Gu is a member of the laboratory of KI faculty member Professor Paula Hammond. Professor Hammond specializes in the development of nanoparticles and nanomaterials for drug delivery, and was selected this past summer to head MIT’s Department of Chemical Engineering.

Li’s project is addressed at specific challenges, and opportunities, in treating ovarian cancer. Previous work by Koch Institute collaborators in MIT’s Department of Biology, and by clinical partners at Boston’s Dana-Faber Cancer Institute, suggest that specific cell surface receptors in ovarian cancer might serve as molecular targets for drug delivery. Li plans to develop a nanotechnology-based drug delivery platform that, through its specific interactions with these receptors, could simultaneously improve targeting, improve cancer cell uptake of chemotherapy, and shut down receptor-mediated signalling related to tumor growth and drug resistance. Because of their properties and function, these receptors offer a novel pathway for the creation of a powerful therapeutic synergy.

Over the course of his fellowship, Li will continue collaborating with existing clinical partners at Dana-Faber, and also bring on board a gynecology oncology fellow at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston who is visiting scientist in the Hammond laboratory this year.

Li earned both his undergraduate and doctoral degrees in chemistry, the first from Peking University in his native China and the second from Rutgers University in New Jersey.

An image from Li’s work was selected this spring as part of the 2016 Koch Institute Image awards to hang in its public galleries through next March – you can see the image (MIT website) and watch a video of Li describing his work at the Image Awards program by clicking the ‘watch’ tab above the image.

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Febuary 2015

Final Report 2014

Cover Letter by Tyler Jacks for the final reports on the work of Misrock Fellows 2014, Drs. Yi Wen Kong, Zhimin Tao and Mark Tibbitt, announcement of Misrock Fellows for 2015, Vikash Chauhan and Mohiuddin Quadir
Read Cover Letter Final Report 2014 (PDF; 311 KB) >

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Vikash Chauhan, Misrock Fellow 2015

Research Project:

Alleviating hypoxia to reverse suppression of anti-tumor immunity

Originally from Ohio, Vikash Chauhan came East to earn undergraduate and graduate degrees in chemical and biomolecular engineering at the John Hopkins University, and he earned his doctorate in bioengineering from Harvard University. Here at MIT, he is a member of the laboratory of renowned engineer Robert Langer, who was awarded the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering earlier this month.

Vikash’s project, "Alleviating hypoxia to reverse suppression of anti-tumor immunity", addresses persistent challenges in using immunotherapies, a very successful new type of cancer treatment, against certain solid tumors. Essentially, he is working to develop a nanoparticle delivery vehicle for recently developed drugs that allow oxygen, and thus immune cells, to permeate the interior of tumors. These agents work synergistically with cancer immunotherapies and, it is hoped, will help immunotherapies to be effective against hard-to-reach tumors and against metastases.

February 2015

Mission: Possible, live grant competition

As part of the Koch Institute's fifth anniversary programs, it held "Mission: Possible", a special, live grant competition where live, creative research proposals from KI teams were judged by members of Cambridge’s pharma and biotech sector. Vikash, one of the 2015 Fellows, was a member of the winning team – the competition was profiled by MIT News, including a photo of Vikash and his teammates. See the image (MIT website) >

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Mohiuddin Quadir, Misrock Fellow 2015

Research Project:

Multi-compartment, nanoscale platform for combinatorial anticancer therapy

Mohiuddin Quadir, better known as "Mohi", is a member of Paula Hammond’s laboratory. Mohi holds degrees in pharmacy from the University of Dhaka, in Bangladesh, and earned his doctorate in chemistry at Freie University of Berlin, in Germany. The Hammond laboratory is known for developing customizable nanoparticles that can be produced at industrial scale, that can be adapted inside and out to carry a wide range of therapeutic and targeting components, and that can release cargoes in a controlled way. This enables the nanoparticles to find and fight many types of cancers, delivering therapeutics only at the site of cancer cells, while leaving normal cells alone.

Mohi’s fellowship project is titled, "Multi-compartment, nanoscale platform for combinatorial anticancer therapy". Tumors are usually made up of multiple types of cancer cells, which can have different mutations, different metastatic potential, and different characteristics of other types. Mohi will be working to create a multi-layer nanoparticle that packages together several cancer therapies of various types, and that releases them in the appropriate stages to achieve maximum impact. The aim of this combination is to kill several types of tumor cells, reducing the existing tumor while also fending off drug resistance an metastases.

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April 2014

Final Report 2013

Cover Letter by Tyler Jacks for the final reports on the work of Misrock Fellows 2013, Tal Danino (second term) and Kogularamanan Suntharalingam, announcement of Misrock Fellows for 2014, Mark Tibbitt, Yi Wen Kong and Zhimin Tao
Read Cover Letter Final Report 2013 (PDF; 350 KB) >

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Mark Tibbitt, Misrock Fellow 2014

Research Project:

Injectable nano-network for cancer diagnostics and therapy

Mark Tibbitt has been developing a nanogel to attract metastatic cancer cells to a specific location in the body, where information can be relayed to clinicians for diagnosis and staging, and chemotherapy can be administered to those cells. His approach is novel not only in the development of new materials, but also in its strategy of bringing metastatic cells to one location for treatment raher than chasing them throughout the body or in the many biological niches where they can hide. Over the funding term, Mark Tibbitt has successfully constructed the nanogel. The material can change and reform its shape, it successfully incorporates the desired chemotherapy drugs, and it creates a niche that metastatic cells will find attractive. Mark Tibbitt will work to further develop mechanisms for attracting metastatic cells to the gel, and for relaying information to clinicians.

February 2015

New nanogel for drug delivery
Self-healing gel can be injected into the body and act as a long-term drug depot.
Read MITnews report (MIT website) >

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Zhimin Tao, Misrock Fellow 2014

Research Project:

High-throughput Screening for Small Molecule Inhibitors of Protein-Protein Interactions Based On Surface Enhanced Resonance Raman Spectroscopy of Gold Nanoparticles

Zhimin Tao has been developing nanoparticles that are not therapeutic themselves, but that could offer a method for high-thoughput screening of traditional, small-molecule drugs for use against certain genetic targets in cancer. Screening these types of drugs for this purpose currently requires much slower and more labor-intensive testing, thus a faster and more efficient system could speed the development of new treatments.

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Yi Wen Kong, Misrock Fellow 2014

Research Project:

Exploiting synthetic lethality and nanotechnology to sensitize non-small cell lung cancer to chemotherapy in vivo

Over the course of her fellowship term, Yi Wen Kong has created a nanoparticle that delivers an siRNA inhibitor to silence the MK2 signaling pathway, which helps cancer cells resist the crippling DNA damage caused by chemotherapy, and thus sensitize non small cell lung cancer cells to cisplatin, a standard chemotherapy drug used to treat lung disease. In addition to targeting a single pathway to enhance chemotherapeutic response, Yi Wen was able to deliver siRNA inhibitors that target both MK2 and another distinct „chemotherapy bypass“ pathway, further enhancing tumor response to cisplatin. Moreover, she was able to expand her work to test the siRNA and nanoparticle carrier against ovarian cancer.

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February 2013

Final Report 2012

Cover Letter by Tyler Jacks for the final reports on the work of Misrock Fellows 2012, Kris Wood and Tal Danino, announcement of Misrock Fellows for 2013, Tal Danino (second term) and Kogularamanan Suntharalingam
Read Cover Letter Final Report 2012 (PDF; 381 KB) >

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Kogularamanan Suntharalingam, Misrock Fellow 2013


May 2014

Phenanthriplatin and OsNphenCl3 Nanoparticle Project
Final Progress Report for Kogularamanan Suntharalingam
Read final progress report 2013 (PDF; 598 KB) >


A Dual-targeting, p53-Independent, Apoptosis Inducing Platinum(II)
Anticancer Complex, [Pt(BDIQQ)]Cl
Suntharalingam K, Wilson JJ, Lin W, Lippard SJ, Metallomics, 2014, 6 (3), 437-43

Conjugation of Vitamin E Analog - TOS to Pt(IV) Complexes for Dual-Targeting
Anticancer Therapy

Suntharalingam K, Ying S, Lippard SJ, Chemical Communications, 2014, 50 (19), 2465-8
Read publication (PDF; 897 KB) >


Bidentate Ligands on Osmium(VI) Nitrido Complexes Control Intracellular Targeting
and Cell Death Pathways

Suntharalingam K, Johnstone TC, Bruno PM, Lin W, Hemann MT, Lippard SJ, Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2013, 135 (38), 14060-14063

Synthesis and Characterization of Pt(IV) Fluorescein Conjugates to Investigate
Pt(IV) Intracellular Transformations

Song Y, Suntharalingam K, Yeung JS, Royzen M, Lippard SJ, Bioconjugate Chemistry, 2013, 24(10), 1733-1740

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Tal Danino, Misrock Fellow 2012 and 2013


March 2015

Tal Danino on TED talks: Programming bacteria to detect cancer (and maybe treat it)
Liver cancer is one of the most difficult cancers to detect, but synthetic biologist Tal Danino had a left-field thought: What if we could create a probiotic, edible bacteria that was „programmed“ to find liver tumors? His insight exploits something we're just beginning to understand about bacteria: their power of quorum sensing, or doing something together once they reach critical mass. Danino, a TED Fellow, explains how quorum sensing works — and how clever bacteria working together could someday change cancer treatment.
Watch TED talks (Video; MPEG4) >

May 2014

Engineered minicells and probiotics for cancer therapeutics and diagnostics
Final Progress Report for Tal Danino
Read final progress report 2013 (PDF; 401 KB) >

September 2012

Vivo Gene Expression Dynamics of Tumor-Targeted Bacteria
Tal Danino, Justin Lo, Arthur Prindle, Jeff Hasty, and Sangeeta N. Bhatia
Read publication (PDF; 467 KB) >

August 2012

Genetic Circuits in Salmonella typhimurium
Arthur Prindle, Jangir Selimkhanov, Tal Danino, Phillip Samayoa, Anna Goldberg, Sangeeta N. Bhatia, and Jeff Hasty
Read publication (PDF; 487 KB) >

Koch Institutes Public Galleries:

Image Awards 2013

Bacterial Supernova: Programming E. coli to Release Drugs into a Tumor
This image, captured by Tal Danino, Jeff Hasty, and Sangeeta Bhatia, shows a colony of E. coli rewired to produce a burst of fluorescent protein when it reaches a predetermined density. The researchers hope to modify this system and engineer the bacteria to release a coordinated burst of drugs at a tumor site.
Visit the image gallery (Koch Institute Public Galleries website) >

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Kris Wood, Misrock Fellow 2012


May 2012

MicroSCALE Screening Reveals Genetic Modifiers of Therapeutic Response in Melanoma
Kris C. Wood, David J. Konieczkowski, Cory M. Johannessen, Jesse S. Boehm, Pablo Tamayo, Olga B. Botvinnik, Jill P. Mesirov, William C. Hahn, David E. Root, Levi A. Garraway, and David M. Sabatini
Science Signaling 5 (224), rs4. [DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2002612]
Read publication (PDF; 1.2 MB) >

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Ga Young Park, Misrock Fellow 2011


June 2012

Phenanthriplatin, a monofunctional DNA-binding platinum anticancer drug candidate with unusual potency and cellular activity profile
Ga Young Park, Justin J. Wilson, Ying Song, and Stephen J. Lippard
Department of Chemistry, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139
Read publication (PDF; 487 KB) >

July 2012

New drug candidate shows promise against cancer
Platinum compound may offer an alternative to cisplatin, a widely used chemotherapy agent.
Read MITnews report (MIT website) >

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Avi Schroeder, Misrock Fellow 2011


October 2014

New drug-delivery capsule may replace injections
Pill coated with tiny needles can deliver drugs directly into the lining of the digestive tract.
Read MITnews report (MIT website) >

April 2012

Nano-sized ‘factories’ churn out proteins
Tiny particles could manufacture cancer drugs at tumor sites.
Read MITnews report (MIT website) >

March 2012

Remotely Activated Protein-Producing Nanoparticles
Avi Schroeder, Michael S. Goldberg, Christian Kastrup, Yingxia Wang, Shan Jiang, Brian J. Joseph, Christopher G. Levins, Sneha T. Kannan, Robert Langer, and Daniel G. Anderson
Read publication (PDF; 381 KB) >

January 2012

Treating metastatic cancer with nanotechnology
Avi Schroeder, Daniel A. Heller, Monte M. Winslow, James E. Dahlman, George W. Pratt, Robert Langer, Tyler Jacks, and Daniel G. Anderson
Read publication (PDF; 3.5 MB) >

Koch Institutes Public Galleries:

Image Awards 2011

Hitting a Nerve: Delivering Drugs into a Neuron
Biologist Gaurav Sahay, engineer Avi Schroeder, and neuroscientist Paulina Hill capture a moment of success: pouches made up of a particular combination of lipids have successfully crossed the membrane and reached the inside of a nerve cell.
Visit the image gallery (Koch Institute Public Galleries website) >

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