Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center

Boston, Massachusetts
Director, Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center
Professor of Oncology,  Harvard Medical School


Dr. Haber discovered cancer cells that are shed from a primary tumor and traverse through the bloodstream, known as circulating tumor cells (CTCs), hold the key to predicting cancer treatment response, resistance and cancer relapse. NFCR funding since 2004 has allowed Dr. Haber to further understand the importance of CTCs. He has developed a non-invasive fluorescent light analysis which permits characterization of unique genetic sequences of liver, breast, prostate and melanoma CTCs in the bloodstream. As a platform technology, a CTC-derived signal can be applied to virtually any cancer. The CTC-derived signal in patients is an excellent metric of early and reliable positive outcomes for patients with: 1) metastatic melanoma treated with immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy; 2) advanced localized prostate cancer identified as high-risk with poor survival in response to hormone therapy; 3) localized breast cancer prior to and during presurgical chemotherapy; and 4) metastatic breast cancer.

Analyses of patients with localized breast cancer showed that a high CTC signal was a significant predictor of higher residual disease at the time of surgery. The results for women with metastatic breast cancer indicated that patients with a low pre-treatment CTC signal that further decreases with treatment have improved overall survival. Dr. Haber’s technology of monitoring a patient’s CTC signals prior to and during treatment will better guide clinicians towards more effective, personalized cancer treatments and have a profound impact on the outcome for many cancer patients.


Daniel A. Haber, M.D., Ph.D., is the Director of the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Cancer Center and a professor of oncology at Harvard Medical School. He received his Bachelor and Master degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and received a M.D. and Ph.D. from Stanford University School of Medicine. Following his schooling, Dr. Haber conducted his postdoctoral training at MIT and joined the Harvard Medical School faculty in 1991 as an assistant professor.

Dr. Haber is most interested in the area of cancer genomics, including the study of circulating tumor cells, the Wilms tumor and genetic predisposition to breast cancer.

In addition to his award with NFCR, Dr. Haber is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, on the Board of Directors for the American Association for Cancer Research and a member of the Association of American Physicians and the American Society for Clinical Investigation. He is also on the editorial boards of Cell and Cancer Cell, and has served as genetics editor for the New England Journal of Medicine.

Dr. Haber has been honored with the National Foundation for Cancer Research (NFCR) and the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Professorship in Basic Cancer Research, a MERIT Award from the National Cancer Institute, the Emil Freireich Award from MD Anderson Cancer Center, Stand Up to Cancer Dream Team Award, a Dream Team Award from the Prostate Cancer Foundation, the Sternlicht Award from Case Western Reserve and the Hinda Rosenthal Award for Translational Research from the American Association for Cancer Research.

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