Daniel A. Haber

Harvard University

Primary Section: 41, Medical Genetics, Hematology, and Oncology
Membership Type: Member (elected 2018)


Daniel Haber is Director of the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Cancer Center and the Kurt J. Isselbacher Professor of Oncology at Harvard Medical School. He is known for his research on human cancer genetics, including the discovery of EGFR gene mutations in lung cancer, which underlie dramatic clinical responses to specific kinase inhibitors, and analyses of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) as noninvasive liquid biopsies for cancer. Haber was born in Paris, France, graduated from MIT with B.S. and M.S. degrees in 1977, received his M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from Stanford University School of Medicine (1983), and then completed a medical residency at MGH, medical oncology clinical fellowship at Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and postdoctoral research at MIT. He joined the Harvard Medical School faculty and the MGH Cancer Center in 1991. He is an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and a member of the American Association of Arts and Sciences (AAAS), the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) and the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). Haber has received a MERIT Award from the National Cancer Institute, the Doris Duke Distinguished Clinical Scientist Award, the Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Memorial Award from the American Association for Cancer Research, and a Dream Team Award from Stand-Up-To-Cancer.

Research Interests

The Haber laboratory has a longstanding interest in the genetics of human cancer, with a focus on understanding mutations that are acquired by tumors and render them susceptible to specific targeted drug therapies. In 2004, we identified mutations in the EGFR gene in lung cancers which confer dramatic sensitivity to drugs that specifically inhibit that pathway. This finding triggered the application of targeted therapies in lung cancer, and more generally pointed to the critical importance of mutational analysis for treatment selection in common epithelial cancers. Since then, we have collaborated with the bioengineering team led by Dr. Mehmet Toner, the molecular biology group of Dr. Shyamala Maheswaran, and MGH Cancer Center clinicians to develop, characterize and apply microfluidic devices to isolate rare circulating tumor cells (CTCs) in the blood of patients with cancer. Using mutational analyses, single cell RNA-sequencing, and functional studies of cultured CTCs, we have applied these tools to explore blood-based early detection of cancer, noninvasive monitoring of cancer for the emergence of drug resistance, and understanding mechanisms of blood-borne tumor cell dissemination, with the ultimate goal of suppressing the metastatic spread of cancer.

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