Job title: Professor of Medicine, Dana Farber Cancer Institute & President
Anthony Letai received his MD and PhD at the University of Chicago. His PhD was done under the supervision of Elaine Fuchs. Dr. Letai then completed clinical training in Internal Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston. Following this, he completed fellowship in Hematology and Oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. He was introduced to apoptosis and BCL-2 family proteins as a post-doctoral researcher in the laboratory of the late Stanley Korsmeyer.
In 2004, Dr. Letai became independent investigator at Harvard Medical School and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute where he is now a Professor of Medicine. Since that time, his laboratory has studied how apoptosis can be evaded, particularly in cancer cells, and how this evasion may be detected and targeted. Key to these studies is a novel assay – BH3 profiling. BH3 profiling can detect what blocks cancer cells use to evade apoptosis and profiling detect cells that are dependent on BCL-2. He has led efforts to translate BCL-2, BCL-XL, and MCL-1 inhibitors into the clinic. These include venetoclax, a BCL-2 inhibitor made by AbbVie approved by the FDA for CLL and now being tested across nearly all blood cancers.
Moreover, BH3 profiling can be used as a summary measure of how close a cell is to the threshold of apoptosis. The Letai lab has found that proximity to this threshold correlates with better response to chemotherapy in the clinic. The laboratory will be testing whether BH3 profiling can be used as a predictive biomarker in clinical cancer therapy.