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Cancer Center

image of cancer cellsThe CSHL Cancer Center is a basic research facility committed to exploring the fundamental biology of human cancer. With support from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) since 1987, our researchers have used a focused, multi-disciplinary approach to break new ground in basic tumor biology and develop innovative, advanced technologies. Research covers a broad range of cancer types, including breast, prostate, leukemia, glioma, pancreatic, sarcoma, lung, and melanoma.

Three Scientific Programs provide focus in Cancer Genetics and Genomics; Cellular Communication in Cancer; and Gene Regulation and Inheritance. In addition, ten Shared Resources offer essential access to technologies, services, and expertise that enhance productivity. With a strong collaborative environment and open communication, the CSHL Cancer Center is able to make breakthroughs in cancer biology that are translating into real progress in cancer diagnostics and treatment.

Members of the CSHL Cancer Center apply a multi-pronged approach—from genomic biology to animal models to detailed biochemistry—to interrogate the molecular mechanisms that drive tumor growth and metastasis. Building on this basic research, scientists at the Lab are translating their findings into novel therapeutics for many of the most intractable cancers. Much of this research is made possible through numerous collaborations with clinical partners, including a strategic alliance with the nearby Northwell Health System that connects CSHL scientists with clinicians and more than 16,000 cancer patients each year.

Leadership and Administration

Director

David Tuveson, M.D., Ph.D.

Deputy Directors

Adrian Krainer, Ph.D. (Research)
Nicholas Tonks, Ph.D. (Operations)
Lloyd Trotman, Ph.D. (Education & Diversity)
Denise Roberts, Ph.D. (Administration)

Administration

Lindsey Baker, Ph.D. (Assoc. Director Research and Administration)
Sydney Gary, Ph.D., (Assoc. Director Operations and Administration)
Jaclyn Jansen, Ph.D. (Assoc. Director Education and Administration)
Jessica Peluso (Cancer Center Coordinator)

Program Leaders

Cancer Center External Advisory Board

Steven Burakoff, M.D.
Director of the Mt. Sinai Cancer Institute, Mount Sinai School of Medicine

Lewis Cantley, Ph.D.
Director, Meyer Cancer Center
Weill Cornell Medical College and New York-Presbyterian Hospital

Walter Eckhart, Ph.D.
Department of Molecular & Cell Biology, The Salk Institute for Biological Studies

Chad Ellis, Ph.D.
Deputy Director, Research Administration, UPMC Hillman Cancer Center

Richard Hynes, Ph.D.
Department of Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Richard Marais, Ph.D.
Director, Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute

Elaine Mardis, Ph.D.
Co-Executive Director, The Institute for Genomic Medicine at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and the Nationwide Foundation Endowed Chair of Genomic Medicine

Larry Norton, M.D.
Deputy Physician-in-Chief, Breast Cancer Programs
Medical Director, Evelyn H. Lauder Breast Center, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Dana Pe’er, Ph.D.
Scientific Director, The Alan and Sandra Gerry Metastasis and Tumor Ecosystems Center, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Kornelia Polyak, M.D., Ph.D.
Department of Medicine, Medical Oncology, Harvard Medical School and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Martine Roussel, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Genetics and Tumor Cell Biology, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

Reuben Shaw, Ph.D.
Director, Salk Institute Cancer Center

Past Directors

Dr. Watson

Dr. James Watson
1987 – 1988

Richard Roberts

Dr. Richard Roberts
1988 – 1992

Bruce Stillman

Dr. Bruce Stillman
1992 – 2016

Director, David Tuveson, M.D., Ph.D.
Deputy Director, Research, Adrian Krainer, Ph.D.

Cancer researchers at CSHL are using cutting-edge technology in innovative and collaborative studies to explore the basic biology underlying the disease. Our research can be divided into three main focus areas:

 Cancer Genetics and Genomics
 Cellular Communication in Cancer
 Gene Regulation and Inheritance

Nick Tonks, Ph.D., Deputy Director, Operations
Denise Roberts, Ph.D., Deputy Director, Administration
Sydney Gary, Ph.D., Associate Director, Operations and Administration
Bob Gerdes, Shared Resource Business Manager

The CSHL Cancer Center has ten shared resources that facilitate cancer research with state-of-the-art technology and integral services. With the support of world-class staff, these core facilities ensure that Cancer Center researchers have all the necessary tools to make breakthrough discoveries.

Animal Facility Animal   Mass Spectrometry
Animal Tissue Imaging Animal & Tissue Imaging   Microscopy
  Antibody & Phage Display image of organoid icon Organoid
 Flow Cytometry   Sequencing Technologies and Analysis
  Functional Genomics image of single-cell biology icon Single-Cell Biology

The CSHL Cancer Center has long been a leader in basic research, exploring the fundamental pathways and molecules that enable life. Now, Cancer Center researchers are applying these groundbreaking discoveries to the development of new treatments and better diagnostics for cancer.

While maintaining its focus on exceptional basic science, the CSHL Cancer Center is also expanding translational research. The Lab has partnered with a leading healthcare system to increase preclinical research at the Lab and facilitate clinical trials based on basic science discoveries. At the same time, the next generation of doctors can experience basic research firsthand through translational training opportunities in the CSHL Cancer Center that are designed to bridge the gap between the lab and the clinic. The Cancer Center benefits from a Translational Advisory Group to facilitate the translation of basic science discoveries in the clinic.

Translational Advisory Group

Jeff Boyd, Ph.D. (chair)
CSHL Professor
Chief Scientific Officer, Northwell Health Cancer Institute

Richard Barakat, M.D.
Director, Northwell Health Cancer Institute
CSHL Cancer Center Affiliate Member

James Crawford, M.D., Ph.D.
Chair, Pathology, Northwell Health Cancer Institute
CSHL Cancer Center Affiliate Member

Noah Kauff, M.D.
Chief, Cancer Genetics, Northwell Health Cancer Institute
CSHL Cancer Center Affiliate Member

Adrian Krainer, Ph.D.
CSHL Professor
Deputy Director, Research, CSHL Cancer Center

Louis Potters, M.D.
Director, Radiation Oncology, Northwell Health Cancer Institute
CSHL Cancer Center Affiliate Member

Wasif Saif, M.D.
Director, Medical Oncology, Northwell Health Cancer Institute
CSHL Cancer Center Affiliate Member

Matthew Weiss, M.D.
Director, Surgical Oncology, Northwell Health Cancer Institute
CSHL Cancer Center Affiliate Member

Semir Beyaz

Semir Beyaz

Are you really what you eat? Our goal is to uncover the precise mechanisms that link nutrition to organismal health and disease states at the cellular and molecular level. A particular focus in our lab is to understand how dietary perturbations affect the immune system and contribute to the risk of diseases that are associated with immune dysfunction such as cancer.

Jeremy C. Borniger

Jeremy C. Borniger

Patients with cancer frequently experience debilitating symptoms that can impair quality of life and reduce odds of survival. These include drastic changes in appetite, sleep/wake cycles, cognitive function, and pain, among others. Our lab aims to uncover mechanistic interactions between the brain and cancer that drive these phenomena. Reciprocally, we investigate how manipulation of specific brain circuits influences cancer processes in the body.

Jeff Boyd

Jeff Boyd

My research interests are in the molecular genetics, genetics, and genomics of gynecologic and breast cancers. Currently I am focused on the early natural histories of ovarian carcinoma and metastatic breast cancer, the genomics of ovarian cancer stem/progenitor cells, and the hypothesis that most breast cancers result from polygenic susceptibility.

Kenneth Chang

Kenneth Chang

RNA interference (RNAi) and CRISPR are widely used to functionally investigate mammalian genomes. It is our goal to develop and optimize these gene perturbation platforms to improve their effectiveness in understanding the biology of diseases.

Alexander Dobin

Alexander Dobin

Next generation sequencing technologies revolutionized many areas of genetics and molecular biology, enabling quantitative analyses of the entire genomes and paving the way for Personalized Medicine. We develop novel statistical methods and computational algorithms for multi-omics processing and integration, and leverage Big Genomic Data to elucidate various problems in precision health, such as genetic and epigenetic mechanisms of cancer development and progression, and clinical impact of functional variants.

Camila dos Santos

Camila dos Santos

Among the changes that occur during pregnancy, those affecting the breasts have been found to subsequently modify breast cancer risk. My laboratory investigates how the signals present during pregnancy permanently alter the way gene expression is controlled and how these changes affect normal and malignant mammary development.

Mikala Egeblad

Mikala Egeblad

Cancer cells are surrounded by immune cells, blood vessels, chemical signals and a support matrix—collectively, the tumor microenvironment. Most microenvironments help tumors grow and metastasize, but some can restrict tumors. My lab studies how to target the bad microenvironments and support the good ones to combat cancer.

Douglas Fearon

Douglas Fearon

I’m studying how to harness the power of the immune system to fight cancer. Our underlying premise is that the microenvironment within a tumor suppresses the immune system. We have found a way to eliminate this suppression in the mouse model of pancreatic cancer, which has led to development of a drug for human pancreatic cancer that will enter phase 1 clinical trials in 2015.

Jesse Gillis

Jesse Gillis

There has been a growing appreciation in recent years that gene function is frequently context-dependent, with a large part of that context provided by the activities of other genes. The Gillis lab focuses on characterizing these shared patterns of gene activity through co-expression networks and showing how they can lead to changes in cell function, particularly in single cell expression data.

Thomas Gingeras

Thomas Gingeras

Only a small portion of the RNAs encoded in any genome are used to make proteins. My lab investigates what these noncoding RNAs (ncRNAs) do within and outside of cells, where regulators of their expression are located in the genome. This is particularly important in cancer. Our laboratory works on endometrial cancer and its relationship to age and obesity.

Christopher Hammell

Christopher Hammell

As organisms develop, genes turn on and off with a precise order and timing, much like the order and duration of notes in a song. My group uses model organisms to understand the molecules that control the tempo of development. We also study how changes in the timing of gene expression contribute to diseases like cancer.

Molly Gale Hammell

Molly Gale Hammell

To ensure that cells function normally, tens of thousands of genes must be turned on or off together. To do this, regulatory molecules—transcription factors and non-coding RNAs—simultaneously control hundreds of genes. My group studies how the resulting gene networks function and how they can be compromised in aging associated diseases, such as neurodegeneration and cancer.

Tobias Janowitz

Tobias Janowitz

Cancer is a systemic disease. Using both laboratory and clinical research, my group investigates the connections between metabolism, endocrinology, and immunology to discover how the body’s response to a tumor can be used to improve treatment for patients with cancer.

Leemor Joshua-Tor

Leemor Joshua-Tor

Our cells depend on thousands of proteins and nucleic acids that function as tiny machines: molecules that build, fold, cut, destroy, and transport all of the molecules essential for life. My group is discovering how these molecular machines work, looking at interactions between individual atoms to understand how they activate gene expression, DNA replication, and small RNA biology.

Justin Kinney

Justin Kinney

Research in the Kinney Lab combines mathematical theory, machine learning, and experiments in an effort to illuminate how cells control their genes. These efforts are advancing the fundamental understanding of biology and biophysics, as well as accelerating the discovery of new treatments for cancer and other diseases.

Peter Koo

Peter Koo

Deep learning has the potential to make a significant impact in basic biology and cancer, but a major challenge is understanding the reasons behind their predictions. My research develops methods to interpret this powerful class of black box models, with a goal of elucidating data-driven insights into the underlying mechanisms of sequence-function relationships.

Adrian R. Krainer

Adrian R. Krainer

Our DNA carries the instructions to manufacture all the molecules needed by a cell. After each gene is copied from DNA into RNA, the RNA message is "spliced" - an editing process involving precise cutting and pasting. I am interested in how splicing normally works, how it is altered in genetic diseases and cancer, and how we can correct these defects for therapy.

Alexander Krasnitz

Alexander Krasnitz

Many types of cancer display bewildering intra-tumor heterogeneity on a cellular and molecular level, with aggressive malignant cell populations found alongside normal tissue and infiltrating immune cells. I am developing mathematical and statistical tools to disentangle tumor cell population structure, enabling an earlier and more accurate diagnosis of the disease and better-informed clinical decisions.

Je H. Lee

Je H. Lee

Cells are amazingly complex, with the ability to sense, and remember timing, location and history. I am exploring how cells store this information, and how their surroundings influence their communication with other cells. I am also developing various imaging and molecular sequencing methods for tracking genes, molecules, and cells to understand how cancer cells arise and evolve.

Dan Levy

Dan Levy

We have recently come to appreciate that many unrelated diseases, such as autism, congenital heart disease and cancer, are derived from rare and unique mutations, many of which are not inherited but instead occur spontaneously. I am generating algorithms to analyze massive datasets comprising thousands of affected families to identify disease-causing mutations.

Michael Lukey

Michael Lukey

Tumor growth depends upon cancer cells acquiring nutrients from their environment and using these molecules to fuel proliferation. My group studies the nature and regulation of metabolic adaptation during tumorigenesis and metastasis, with the intention of identifying metabolic vulnerabilities that can be targeted for cancer therapy.

Scott Lyons

Scott Lyons

I provide collaborative research support to CSHL researchers in the area of preclinical in vivo imaging. This includes access to a comprehensive range of imaging modalities, as well as provision of experimental guidance, training and imaging reagents. In addition, my lab develops new and impactful ways to image aspects of in vivo tumor biology that are broadly relevant to the development of new therapeutics and the research interests of the CSHL Cancer Center.

Rob Martienssen

Rob Martienssen

Chromosomes are covered with chemical modifications that help control gene expression. I study this secondary genetic code - the epigenome - and how it is guided by small mobile RNAs in plants and fission yeast. Our discoveries impact plant breeding and human health, and we use this and other genomic information to improve aquatic plants as a source of bioenergy.

David McCandlish

David McCandlish

Some mutations are harmful but others are benign. How can we predict the effects of mutations, both singly and in combination? Using data from experiments that simultaneously measure the effects of thousands of mutations, I develop computational tools to predict the functional impact of mutations and apply these tools to problems in protein design, molecular evolution, and cancer.

W. Richard McCombie

W. Richard McCombie

Over the last two decades, revolutionary improvements in DNA sequencing technology have made it faster, more accurate, and much cheaper. We are now able to sequence up to 10 trillion DNA letters in just one month. I harness these technological advancements to assemble genomes for a variety of organisms and probe the genetic basis of neurological disorders, including autism and schizophrenia, better understand cancer progression and understand the complex structures of the genomes of higher plants.

Hannah Meyer

Hannah Meyer

A properly functioning immune system must be able to recognize diseased cells and foreign invaders among the multitude of healthy cells in the body. This ability is essential to both prevent autoimmune diseases and fight infections and cancer. We study how a specific type of immune cells, known as T cells, are educated to make this distinction during development.

Alea A. Mills

Alea A. Mills

Cells employ stringent controls to ensure that genes are turned on and off at the correct time and place. Accurate gene expression relies on several levels of regulation, including how DNA and its associated molecules are packed together. I study the diseases arising from defects in these control systems, such as aging and cancer.

John Moses

John Moses

My group uses click chemistry to study biological systems at the molecular level. We develop and exploit powerful bond-forming click reactions that enable the rapid synthesis of small functional molecules, including cancer drugs and chemical probes. We apply these novel molecular tools in multidisciplinary discovery projects spanning the fields of biology and chemistry.

Darryl Pappin

Darryl Pappin

Our genome can encode hundreds of thousands of different proteins, the molecular machines that do the work that is the basis of life. I use proteomics, a combination of protein chemistry, mass spectrometry and informatics, to identify precisely which proteins are present in cells—cells from different tissues, developmental stages, and disease states such as cancer—and what has changed between these states.

Jon Preall

Jon Preall

Developing single-cell genomics technologies for applications related to cancer progression, immune surveillance, and discovery of rare novel cell types and transcriptional programs.

Andrea Schorn

Andrea Schorn

Transposable elements make up half of our DNA. They control gene expression and have been a major evolutionary force in all organisms. The Schorn lab investigates how small RNAs identify and silence transposable elements when they become active during development and cancer.

Jason Sheltzer

Jason Sheltzer

Nearly all tumors exhibit a condition known as aneuploidy—their cells contain the wrong number of chromosomes. We’re working to understand how aneuploidy impacts cancer progression, in hopes of developing therapies that can specifically eliminate aneuploid cancers while leaving normal cells unharmed.

Adam Siepel

Adam Siepel

I am a computer scientist who is fascinated by the challenge of making sense of vast quantities of genetic data. My research group focuses in particular on questions involving molecular evolution and transcriptional regulation, with applications to cancer and other diseases as well as to plant breeding and agriculture.

David L. Spector

David L. Spector

The immense amount of DNA, RNA and proteins that contribute to our genetic programs are precisely organized inside the cell's nucleus. My group studies how nuclear organization impacts gene regulation, and how misregulation of non-coding RNAs contributes to human diseases such as cancer.

Bruce Stillman

Bruce Stillman

Every time a cell divides, it must accurately copy its DNA. With 3 billion “letters” in the human genome, this is no small task. My studies reveal the many steps and molecular actors involved, as well as how errors in DNA replication are involved in diseases that range from cancer to rare genetic disorders.

Nicholas Tonks

Nicholas Tonks

Cells must constantly react to what is happening around them, adapting to changes in neighboring cells or the environment. I study the signals that cells use to exchange information with their surroundings. Our group is finding drugs that target these signals and thus can treat diabetes, obesity, cancer, and autism spectrum disorders.

Lloyd Trotman

Lloyd Trotman

We have recently developed the first genetic mouse model for therapy and analysis of metastatic prostate cancer. Now we can test if and how modern concepts of cancer evolution can outperform the 80-year-old standard of care - hormone deprivation therapy - and turn lethal prostate cancer into a curable disease.

David Tuveson

David Tuveson

Pancreatic cancer is an extremely lethal malignancy. On average, patients who are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer succumb to the disease within 6 months. Research is the only way to defeat pancreatic cancer. My lab is making progress toward finding a cure by detecting the disease earlier and designing novel therapeutic approaches.

Chris Vakoc

Chris Vakoc

Cancer cells achieve their pathogenicity by changing which genes are on and off. To maintain these changes in gene expression, cancer cells rely on proteins that interact with DNA or modify chromatin. My group investigates how such factors sustain the aberrant capabilities of cancer cells, thereby identifying new therapeutic targets.

Linda Van Aelst

Linda Van Aelst

Normal cell function relies on coordinated communication between all the different parts of the cell. These communication signals control what a cell does, what shape it takes, and how it interacts with other cells. I study these signaling networks to understand how they guard against cancer and neurological disorders.

Michael Wigler

Michael Wigler

Devastating diseases like cancer and autism can be caused by spontaneous changes to our DNA—mutations first appearing in the child, or in our tissues as we age. We are developing methods to discover these changes in individuals, tumors, and even single cells, to promote early detection and treatments

Johannes Yeh

Johannes Yeh

Cells orchestrate proteins to conduct cell-cell communications and environment sensing in order to execute physiological functions. My lab investigates the mechanisms by which dysregulated signals cause diseases such as cancer, and we are developing therapeutics based on these mechanisms.

Lingbo Zhang

Lingbo Zhang

Proper balancing of self-renewal and differentiation in hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells is a central question in hematopoiesis. My laboratory investigates how growth signal and nutrient coordinate to regulate this key process and aims to develop novel therapeutic strategies for hematological diseases and malignancies.


Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory is an NCI-designated Cancer Center. As a basic research institution, CSHL does not treat patients. Information about individual cancers is available at the NCI CancerNet. Questions about CSHL’s cancer research program should be directed to our Public Affairs Department.