Systems biologist Muneesh Tewari to join Human Biology Division

A researcher who studies the similarities between the normal development of embryos and the progression of cancer will join the Human Biology Division this fall.

Dr. Muneesh Tewari is currently a postdoctoral fellow working with Drs. Marc Vidal and Gary Ruvkun at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Massachusetts General Hospital. He has used the worm Caenorhabditis elegans to study how a signaling molecule called transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-b) regulates development of the organism. In mammals, this same molecule triggers cells to invade and move during the process of embryonic development. These biological activities are very similar to what occurs when cancer cells invade surrounding healthy tissue and metastasize, or spread, to distant sites in the body.

As a faculty member, Tewari, who is also a medical oncologist, will use what is known as a systems-biology approach to study the TGF-b pathway in mammalian cells. Systems biology views cells and organisms as large networks of interacting genes and proteins. Because the TGF-b pathway is known to trigger invasion and metastasis in cancer, his work may ultimately lead to new insights into preventing cancer's deadly spread.

Dr. Barb Trask, Human Biology Division director, said that Tewari's recruitment adds strength to the Center's research programs in genomics, solid tumors and computational biology.

"Muneesh has an innovative research program aimed at defining cellular processes that are of relevance to cancer and translating his discoveries to benefit cancer patients," she said. "His work is creative, innovative and experimentally aggressive, and we are all very excited that he'll be joining us this fall."

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