Professor Stephen Elledge

Why do cancerous gene mutations cause specific cancers?

Professor Stephen Elledge is leading a Cancer Grand Challenges Programme, and is the Gregor Mendel Professor of Genetics and of Medicine at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, US. His project will look at why a faulty gene such as KRAS, can be found in nearly all cells in someone’s body, but only lead to cancer in specific tissues.

Professor Elledge’s research interests include genetics and using genetic technologies to better understand human disease. His research team has looked at how to protect the genome against DNA damage and faults that can lead to cancer.

There are many different DNA faults that can lead to different types of cancer. The inherited BRCA gene is one of the most well-known and increases the risk of breast, ovarian and prostate cancers. Professor Elledge’s research will address why faults like these only affect certain tissues in the body, even though they exist in every cell.

The researchers are collaborating with scientists in the UK and the Netherlands to carefully map molecules known to cause cancer, called drivers, with the aim to see how they cause cancer in different tissues. This work has the potential to improve our understanding of cancer and provide information that will impact treatments for patients in future.

It’s hoped that the findings from this project could help doctors to select which drug treatments are more likely to work based on exactly how and where the cancer originated.

All cancer types
Cancer biology

Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, US

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