Research & Initiatives

Nile Albright Research Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides Boston area labs the funding they need to make game-changing discoveries in cancer treatments, detection, prevention and ultimately, a cure. The Foundation has distinguished itself in the cancer research sector by emphasizing long-term, transformative research often overlooked by other major funding sources. With the help of our donors over the last 47 years, we have delivered millions of dollars to cancer research funding leading to several important, life-saving discoveries. Our initiatives focus on the following studies:

Stem Cells

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Weinberg Laboratory of Cancer Biology
Robert A. Weinberg, Ph.D.
Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research

 

We specialize in research in human cancer stem cells. A rapidly changing field, it has been impossible until now to identify these special and unique cells that we believe may play the critical role in the formation and growth of human cancers. Weinberg lab scientists are studying the role of cancer stem cells—the self-renewing, tumor-seeding cells that have been found in a number of solid tumors over the past decade. In 2008, they reported a finding that brings together these two research themes: cancer cells induced to follow one of these embryonic pathways gain many of the properties of adult stem cells.

Pelvic Cancers

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The Vincent Center for Reproductive Biology
Rueda Lab: Bo Rueda, Ph.D.

 

The ovary and the endometrium of the uterus are our focus on epithelial and stromal cell function that help us understand the formation of pelvic cancers. Through molecular biology, proteins from cancer cells have been found that may become bio markers to discover the presence of these cancers. The presence of the cables protein may protect the ovary from development of cancer. In experimental models where the cables gene is not expressed there is spontaneous development of cancer.

Proteomics

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The Vascular Biology Program at Boston Children’s Hospital 
Marsha A. Moses, Ph.D. 

 

Our colleagues have discovered patterns in over 33 matrix metalloproteinases (MMP’s).  The increase or decrease of these proteins in the urine of patients indicates the presence in the body of certain cancers.  By the elevations of certain MMP’s we can discover the first presence of a particular cancer before it becomes fatal or follow the growth of a cancer.  Work is being done to measure through these MMP’s when normal cells may transform to a malignant, or if  untreated, fatal cancer.

Anti-Cancer Therapeutics

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Steele Laboratories, Massachusetts General Hospital
Rakesh K. Jain, Ph.D. 

 

Our research goals are (i) to understand how the abnormal tumor microenvironment confers resistance to various cancer treatments (e.g., chemotherapies, targeted therapies, nanomedicine, radiation, and immunotherapy), (ii) to develop innovative strategies for manipulating the tumor microenvironment to overcome this resistance, and (iii) to translate these strategies from bench to bedside through multi-disciplinary clinical trials. Our discovery that normalizing the tumor microenvironment can improve the treatment outcome has led to 45+ clinical trials in multiple solid tumors at MGH and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in the past 20 years and underpinned the approval of bevacizumab for NF2-associated schwannomas in UK in 2014 as well as the US FDA approval of 7 different combinations of antiangiogenic drugs and immune-checkpoint blockers for kidney, lung, liver, and endometrial cancers since 2018. This tight integration between bench and bedside is a hallmark of our research.

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Gynecologic Cancers Program, Massachusetts General Hospital
Oladapo Yeku, M.D., Ph.D., F.A.C.P. 

 

Dr. Yeku’s research involves characterizing the suppressive tumor microenvironment and evaluating strategies to improve the efficacy of novel immunotherapeutic approaches for the management of gynecologic malignancies. This includes immune checkpoint inhibitors, antibody-drug conjugates, bispecific T-cell engager therapy, and adoptive cellular therapy, including CAR-T cells. His research involves the use of relevant cell lines, preclinical animal models, and clinical trials. Dr. Yeku has published on the role of the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment in ovarian cancer, in addition to devising cell engineering approaches to overcoming this challenge. His research builds on his expertise as a physician scientist focusing exclusively on Gynecologic Medical Oncology. He sees patients in clinic, performs translational research, and runs clinical trials ranging from phase 1 to randomized phase 3 studies. His affiliation with the MGH phase 1/Developmental therapeutics clinic and the cellular therapeutics group allows him a platform to translate his laboratory findings to clinical trials.

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