Massachusetts General Hospital
Andrew Werk Cook Professor of Tumor Biology, Harvard Medical School
Director of the Edwin L. Steele Laboratory for Tumor Biology, Massachusetts General Hospital
Dr. Jain has received NFCR funding since 1998. He is a renowned world expert in understanding how changes in the microenvironment surrounding tumors effect the immune system, drug delivery, treatment efficacy and patient survival. Our immune system produces cytotoxic T cells to kill tumor cells. But tumors create molecules called immune checkpoints that weaken T cells’ ability to kill tumors, allowing the tumor cells to escape the T cell attack. The new immunotherapy called immune checkpoint inhibitors — a class of drugs that block the checkpoints — has revolutionized cancer therapy for some tumors but are not effective in the most aggressive brain tumor, glioblastoma or GBM. Dr. Jain’s current work has determined that the resistance to immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy in GBM is due, in part, by the tumor environment.
Dr. Jain discovered the theory that an imbalance of vessel growth in tumors resulted in leaky blood vessels that caused edema, lack of oxygen and immunosuppression. In GBM models, his team discovered the abnormal vessels severely limit the immune system’s cytotoxic T cells to enter and kill tumors. Most importantly, treating GBM models with a factor previously discovered by Dr. Jain to inhibit blood vessel growth, led to a more normalized tumor vasculature and improved outcomes when combined with immune checkpoint blockers. Dr. Jain’s research has tremendous potential to improve treatment outcomes and increase survival in patients diagnosed with glioblastoma. Ultimately, he hopes his research will inform the design of clinical trials of GBM with dual therapy of the factors to normalize the tumor blood vessels with checkpoint blockers combined with standard of care, surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.
Rakesh Jain, Ph.D., moved from his home in India to the United States in 1972 after receiving a B. Tech in Chemical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology. He then attended the University of Delaware, where he completed a M.S. and Ph.D. in chemical engineering. Dr. Jain served on the faculty of Columbia University for two years and spent 14 years at Carnegie Mellon University. Since 1991, Dr. Jain has been the Andrew Werk Cook Professor of Tumor Biology and the Director of the Edwin L. Steele Laboratory for Tumor Biology at Massachusetts General Hospital.
In addition to his fellowship with NFCR, Dr. Jain is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Medicine. He is the ninth person ever to be elected to all three U.S. National Academies. He is also a Fellow of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Academy.
Throughout his career, Dr. Jain has also been the recipient of numerous prestigious awards, including the 2012 Science of Oncology Award from the Society of Clinical Oncology and the 2016 National Medal of Science from President of the United States Barack Obama. He received the Medal of Science for developing new ways to manipulate tumors.
Dr. Jain has mentored more than 200 doctoral and postdoctoral fellows in more than a dozen disciplines. He has also collaborated with hundreds of basic scientists in fundamental research and physicians across multiple specialties and the partnerships have resulted in more than 700 publications.