Pasi A. Jänne, MD, PhD
The focus of my research is to translate laboratory based observations into therapeutic treatments for patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). To accomplish this we combine basic science with clinical oncology, to effectively generate and synthesize information from clinical trials, genetic tumor analysis, and cell- based studies, in order to develop and refine targeted therapies. My laboratory’s research efforts have extensively focused on understanding the therapeutic relevance of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) in NSCLC. Along with our colleagues from the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, we were among the first to discover somatic mutations in EGFR and their association with exquisite sensitivity to EGFR kinase inhibitors in vitro and in NSCLC patients. We have subsequently translated these initial observations into prospective clinical trials and have extensively studied mechanisms of resistance that arise in NSCLC patients treated with EGFR kinase inhibitors. The identification of resistance mechanisms including secondary mutations in EGFR and MET amplification, and their associated signaling perturbations, have led to the initiation of new clinical trials aimed at overcoming or preventing the emergence of drug resistance. A critical component of developing targeted therapies for patients with NSCLC is to be able to accurately and rapidly identify those patients likely to benefit from such treatments. A second focus of our laboratory has been the development of technology for rapidly genotyping NSCLC patients. This will help in the identification of appropriate patients for EGFR kinase inhibitor therapies, those with resistance mechanisms to EGFR inhibitors and in the development of personalized medicine for lung cancer.