Director's Note

Portrait of Tom Misteli, Ph.D.

Cancer research comes in different flavors. To some it is the search to understand the fundamental molecular and cellular processes that go awry in cancer cells or to shed light on what causes and promotes cancer. To others it is to discover new ways to prevent and diagnose cancer or to develop novel cancer treatments.

No matter how cancer research is defined, all new cancer treatments are the result of putting individual puzzle pieces together, and they emerge from the synergy created by the seamless integration of basic discovery and clinical research. Without basic immunology, there is no immunotherapy; without a molecular understanding of DNA, there is no CRISPR technology; without programs to map gene expression, there is no precision medicine. At CCR, we pursue and collaborate across all facets of cancer research, and this issue of Milestones highlights the full spectrum of our activities.

In the past year, CCR scientists have overturned dogmas in our understanding of how cells proliferate, exposed how proteins end up in the correct location in the cell and harnessed bacterial proteins to deliver drugs. Work done in CCR has also uncovered a role of rare immune cells in liver cancer and identified metabolites that may lower the risk of developing it in the first place. 

We have also found ways to learn about human cancer from pet dogs, and we have characterized new biomarkers that predict the response of ovarian cancer patients to treatment. Finally, delivering on our ultimate goal of bringing new therapies to patients, CCR scientists have developed new treatments for several cancer types, some leading to FDA approvals. 

Success in cancer research requires the contributions of many with diverse skills and perspectives. Regardless of the flavor, cancer research is always about discovering better ways to care for all our patients. This is what we do in CCR.

Tom Misteli
NCI Center for Cancer Research