Massachusetts General Hospital
Director of Thoracic Oncology and Attending Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital
Associate Professor Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Dr. Alice Shaw’s research aims to provide viable treatments for lung cancer patients whose tumors have become resistant to their current drug therapy. With NFCR support since 2014, she seeks to develop new treatments for patients with anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) mutations in non-small cell lung cancer. While only 5% of lung cancer patients are diagnosed with ALK-positive lung cancer (or ALK+ lung cancer), the ALK mutation leads to a high rate of cancer growth and spread to other parts of the body. Dr. Shaw was the lead investigator in the global registration studies for two drugs, which led to their FDA approval for advanced ALK+ lung cancer. These therapies have dramatically improved the outlook for patients, but, eventually, almost all patients will develop resistance.
By using multiple research models, Dr. Shaw and her team quickly identified new drug combinations for lung cancer patients who have developed resistance to their current therapy. Dr. Shaw demonstrated a marked regression of ALK+ lung cancer tumors in mice when treated with a combination of FDA-approved ALK+ lung cancer agents and inhibitors of SHP2 — a cancer gene that regulates cancer cell survival and growth and suppresses an immune system protein. In 2019, a first-in-human clinical trial led by Dr. Shaw began with this combination therapy. Hope is on the horizon with this new combination therapy for ALK+ lung cancer patients who have become resistant to standard targeted therapies.
Alice T. Shaw, M.D., Ph.D., received her B.A. in biochemistry at Harvard University and her M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from Harvard Medical School (where she is currently an Associate Professor). She then completed her residency at Massachusetts General Hospital and her postdoctoral work at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Shaw was also a fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital and is currently the Director of Thoracic Oncology and an Attending Physician there.
In addition to her funding from NFCR, Dr. Shaw has been awarded other research grants throughout her career, including from the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation, the Burroughs Welcome Fund, the V Foundation for Cancer Research, Uniting Against Lung Cancer and the National Institutes of Health.