Recommended by: William Hahn, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
To bridge cancer genome characterization and functional cancer biology, Harvard Medical School's Adam Bass is approaching the study of different cancers from multiple angles, including next-generation sequencing, functional genomics, and more traditional molecular biology.
"While my initial efforts were initially focused upon the study of gastrointestinal cancer, following biology will often land you in unexpected places," Bass says. "For example, our genomic work in esophageal cancer led us to an oncogene also important in lung cancer as well as esophageal disease. So now we have some exciting fundamental functional work ongoing in my group in the study of lung cancer, not something I would have expected to be doing."
As far as Bass is concerned, the biggest challenge lies in deciding what to target in the cancer genome. "Even the genes we know are important are often not very high on the gene list from our sequencing studies — it worries me to think of the smoking guns that are in our data that we are not clever enough yet to find," he says. The longer those genes hide in papers' supplemental data sections, "the longer it will take to develop new treatments," Bass adds.