The Ellisen Lab
Dr. Leif Ellisen is Breast Cancer Program Director and a senior Investigator at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Cancer Center, and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He is also co-Leader of the Breast Cancer Program at the Dana-Farber Harvard Cancer Center. He received his undergraduate degree from Harvard University, MD and PhD degrees from Stanford University, and completed residency training, oncology fellowship training, and postdoctoral research training at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and MGH, respectively. The Ellisen laboratory’s research is focused on the pathogenesis of breast and other cancers, with a particular focus on triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), incorporating studies of tissue-specific development, transcription factor networks and DNA repair. The laboratory seeks to develop and apply a detailed molecular understanding of these factors in order to uncover new approaches for cancer prevention and treatment. For example, published work within the last five years identified for the first time a basal/luminal paracrine signaling program with relevance to breast cancer predisposition (Forster et al, Dev Cell 2014). Teams involving the Ellisen lab have recently discovered fundamental new genetic mechanisms in hormone receptor-positive breast cancer (Reinbay et al, Nature 2017; Matissek at al, Cancer Discovery 2018) and have revealed a new and therapeutically relevant signature of homologous recombination deficiency (Polak et al, Nature Genetics 2017). Work in the laboratory on a DNA damage response pathway led directly to a national clinical trial for TNBC at 10 major cancer centers (Isakoff et al, Journal of Clinical Oncology 2015), and to the discovery of a new oncogene controlling the tumor epigenome (Saladi et al, Cancer Cell 2017).
The Ellisen lab is uniquely positioned to work at the interface of basic tumor biology and therapeutic application. The lab’s work is strongly supported by a network of collaborators and by the extensive research and clinical infrastructure of the MGH Cancer Center and Harvard Medical School.
I am originally from St. Louis, Missouri and received my undergraduate degree in Chemistry from Washington University in St. Louis. I completed my MD and PhD in Pharmacology and Cancer Biology at Duke University. I came to Massachusetts General Hospital for my residency in Clinical Pathology and fellowship in Molecular Genetic Pathology. My current research involves characterizing early changes in precancerous breast tissue from patients with defects in homologous repair pathways (e.g., BRCA1 mutations) with the goal of developing biomarkers that predict progression to cancer and identifying targets for cancer prevention in this population.
Siang Boon Koh
I am originally from Vancouver, Canada and received my undergraduate in Chemical & Biomedical Engineering from McGill University. I completed both an MSc in Cancer Biology and a PhD in Cancer Drug Discovery at Oxford, focusing on identifying small molecules that can reverse tumour hypoxia. My current major research interests include the characterization of next-generation antibody-drug conjugates for precision oncology and exploiting artificial intelligence for drug discovery.
I am originally from Seattle, Washington. I received my undergraduate degree in Biology with a minor in Medical Humanities from Boston College. I coordinate with the lab for several projects and primarily work in the clinical setting with patients. My research interests include hereditary breast cancer syndromes, where the goal of our research is to understand the earliest changes before cancer develops in women at high risk for developing breast cancer. Additionally, I am interested in tumor heterogeneity in triple negative breast cancer and specifically, how this affects response to chemotherapy. I hope to continue to increase outlets for research in order to invite more women to be part of future discoveries and to help bring translational research to the bedside. In the future, I plan to attend medical school to further my education.