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Our people

Scientific Director

Pasi Jänne, M.D., Ph.D., is scientific co-director of the Belfer Center for Applied Cancer Science, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, and director of the Lowe Center for Thoracic Oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

A preeminent translational oncologist whose work has fundamentally changed the way lung cancer is treated, in his research Dr. Jänne combines laboratory-based studies with translational research and clinical trials of novel therapeutic agents in patients with lung cancer. In 2004, he was the co-first author of a seminal study that identified somatic mutations in EGFR in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) tumors and demonstrated their association with the efficacy of the EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor gefitinib.

Dr. Jänne’s current focus is on understanding mechanisms of acquired resistance to targeted therapies in a variety of cancers, development of new and novel models to study resistance, and developing new therapeutic strategies to effectively treat drug-resistant cancers. His studies helped identify MET amplification as a novel gefitinib resistance mechanism, and have now inspired several clinical trials combining EGFR and MET inhibitors for gefitinib- or erlotinib-resistant lung cancer patients.  

Dr. Jänne received an M.D. and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, and completed his internship and residency in medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. In 2002, he earned a master’s degree in clinical investigation from Harvard University. He has received several awards for his research, including from Uniting Against Lung Cancer, American Lung Association and the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation. In 2008, he was elected to the American Society of Clinical Investigation. He is also the recipient of 2010 American Association of Cancer Research Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Memorial and Team Science awards.

Scientific Director

Kwok-Kin Wong, M.D., Ph.D., is scientific co-director of the Belfer Center for Applied Cancer Research, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, and an attending medical oncologist at the Lowe Center for Thoracic Oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

An internationally recognized leader in the development of mouse models of lung cancer, Dr. Wong has contributed tremendously to the understanding of the origins of cancer and the molecular determinants of treatment responses. His research, teaching, and clinical activities focus on understanding the pathogenesis and genetic alterations involved in lung tumorigenesis, as well as testing novel targeted lung cancer therapeutics in vivo.

Dr. Wong received his M.D. and Ph.D. from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. He was trained in internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, and hematology and oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, both at Harvard Medical School. He is a member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation, the nation’s oldest honor society for physician-scientists, and is the recipient of the 2010 Team Science Award from the American Association of Cancer Research. He has authored more than 150 papers and several patents on the molecular biology of cancer and aging.

Paul Kirschmeier, Ph.D. Cancer Therapeutics

Paul Kirschmeier, Ph.D., is the head of cancer therapeutics at the Belfer Center for Applied Cancer Science. He has more than 25 years of experience in drug discovery, drug development, and research operations.

Dr. Kirschmeier held leadership roles in the oncology discovery groups at Schering-Plough and Merck prior to joining the Belfer Center, and was responsible for drug discovery programs that focused cell signaling and cell cycle drug targets. He was a member of teams that delivered five candidates for clinical development, three of which remain in clinical trials. His experience includes conduct of IND-enabling studies, execution of phase 1 and phase 2 clinical trials, and development of patient selection and biomarker strategies for compounds in clinical development.

Dr. Kirschmeier entered the field of cancer research as a postdoctoral fellow studying the fundamental mechanisms of tumor initiation and tumor promotion and developing methods for studying mammalian genetics. He was part of the team that reported the initial cloning of protein kinase C, and developed retroviral vectors for transferring coding sequences into mammalian cells.

Prafulla Gokhale, Ph.D. Experimental Therapeutics Core

Prafulla Gokhale, Ph.D., is head of the Experimental Therapeutics (ETx) Core at the Belfer Institute for Applied Cancer Science. He has more than 10 years of experience in preclinical oncology drug discovery and development. 

Prior to joining the Belfer Institute, Dr. Gokhale worked at Pfizer evaluating siRNA and antisense in oncology drug discovery programs. At OSI Pharmaceuticals, he designed and implemented in vivo tumor models testing strategies, including identifying pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic relationships and developing biomarker strategies.

Dr. Gokhale holds a Ph.D. in pharmacology from University of Mumbai, India. 

Juan Miret, Ph.D. Drug Discovery

Juan Miret, Ph.D., is a group leader in the Drug Discovery group at the Belfer Center for Applied Cancer Science. His research focuses on providing reliable scientific data supporting the therapeutic value of a target and currently is working on identifying and validating novel immunomodulatory targets.

Dr. Miret has more than 15 years of drug discovery experience, working in pharmaceutical (Pfizer, OSIP/Astellas) and biotechnology companies (Cadus Pharmaceuticals, ARIAD Pharmaceuticals). He has led multiple drug discovery programs from target selection and validation to IND, and applied gene family approaches to valuable targets like GPCR and kinases. 

Dr. Miret earned a Ph.D. in biochemistry at the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and completed his postdoctoral training at University of Massachusetts Medical Center.

Sangeetha Palakurthi, Ph.D. Cancer Biology and Pharmacology Group

Sangeetha Palakurthi, Ph.D., is head of the Cancer Biology and Pharmacology Group at the Belfer Center for Applied Cancer Science. Her research is based on concepts of “co-clinicals” and design and execution of translational pharmacology studies, in collaboration with DFCI Investigators and pharma partners, in specialized mouse models of lung and ovarian cancers to enable better clinical trial design decisions.

Dr. Palakurthi’s career spans from academic research to medium and large pharmaceutical settings, with over 12 years of oncology pharmaceutical R&D experience. Her prior research experience at AstraZeneca includes build of clinically relevant in vivo mouse models; design, execution and interpretation of rationale-driven and key milestone decision making “proof of concept” preclinical studies; and strategies useful to guide translation of right drugs to the right patients. 

Dr. Palakurthi received her Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the Osmania University, India.

Cloud Paweletz, Ph.D. Translational Research Laboratory

Cloud Paweletz, Ph.D., is head of the Translational Research Laboratory (TRL) at the Belfer Center for Applied Cancer Science. Previously the principal scientist, externalization lead, and proteomics site lead for Merck & Co.'s department of molecular biomarkers, Dr. Paweletz brings to the Belfer Center expertise in technology development and success in translating assay-based platforms into clinical practice.

Dr. Paweletz holds a Ph.D. and an M.S. in chemistry from Georgetown University, and a B.S. in chemistry from Baldwin Wallace College. He is a member of the American Association of Cancer Research, and has received multiple awards and honors throughout his career, including a Fellows Award for Research Excellence and a Cancer Research Training Award from the NIH.

Cam Anh Tran Senior Scientist

Cam Anh Tran supports business development and alliance management activities for the Belfer Center for Applied Cancer Science. She established a cell line repository and was involved in the development of PDX platforms at the Center. She also coordinates laboratory operations.

Ms. Tran has 10 years’ experience working across life science, biotech, and contract research organizations. At EMD Millipore she was involved in collaboration management, technology assessment, and product development. Her research experience at EMD Serono focused in reproductive health and assay development for functional genomics.

Ms. Tran holds an M.B.A. from Simmons College and an M.S. in biotechnology from Tufts University.