Clear Search

Marsha A. Moses, PhD

Harvard Medical School
Boston, Massachusetts

Titles and Affiliations

Julia Dyckman Andrus Professor of Surgery
Director, Vascular Biology Program
Boston Children’s Hospital

Research area

Understanding and targeting the underlying biology driving breast cancer metastasis.


Tumors need a steady supply of blood to grow and metastasize to distant sites in the body. Tumors build their own blood vessels via a process called angiogenesis—the formation of new capillaries from pre-existing blood vessels. Without this blood supply, a tumor will remain dormant, existing as a tiny lesion of only a few millimeters in diameter, often clinically undetected and doing no harm. This dormant state is recapitulated in metastases as well. However, when certain cancer-promoting genes are activated, dormant tumors can become active and grow. Dr. Moses aims to understand what regulates the genes that stimulate tumor growth and identify molecular differences between dormant and active tumors to effectively target and treat metastases.

Progress Thus Far

Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) has a high rate of metastasis to the brain. TNBC cells release extracellular vesicles (EVs), which are small capsules that can cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and facilitate TNBC brain metastases. Dr. Moses and her team have recently made key discoveries about the molecular pathways through which EVs interact with brain epithelial cells and modulate their metabolism to facilitate their transport across the BBB and eventual preparation of a metastatic site in the brain.

What’s next

Over the coming year, Dr. Moses will continue her work to better understand the role of TNBC cell EVs in promoting breast cancer metastasis to the brain. She and her team are uncovering the specific mechanism by which EVs modulate the BBB vasculature to facilitate their entry into the brain and create a microenvironment suitable for metastatic growth. They will use high-resolution live cell imaging of cultured brain endothelial cells exposed to TNCB EVs in order to assess structural changes induced by EVs. The team will analyze BBB micro vessels to determine variations in protein expression patterns that might play a role in the modification of the BBB.


Dr. Marsha A. Moses is the Julia Dyckman Andrus Professor at Harvard Medical School and the Director of the Vascular Biology Program at Boston Children’s Hospital. She is internationally recognized for her significant contributions to our understanding of the biochemical and molecular mechanisms that underlie the regulation of tumor development and progression. Dr. Moses and her laboratory have discovered several inhibitors of these processes that function at both the transcriptional and translational level, some of which are being developed for potential clinical use in a variety of human diseases. Named a pioneer in the field of Biomarker Medicine by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, she created a Proteomics Initiative at Boston Children’s Hospital, has utilized its resources, including an extensive human biorepository and has leveraged her significant expertise in proteomics, to discover and validate a number of novel, non-invasive biomarkers for a variety of human cancers and non-neoplastic diseases.  Several of these biomarkers are currently being used in clinical trials. Dr. Moses and her team have engineered novel, actively targeted, precision nanomedicines for the treatment of human cancers and their metastases. A number of these therapeutics and diagnostics are included in Dr. Moses’ significant patent portfolio composed of both US and foreign patents.

Dr. Moses’ basic and translational work has been published in such journals as Science, The New England Journal of Medicine, Cell, PNAS and Nature Communications, among others. She received a Biochemistry from Boston University and completed a National Institutes of Health postdoctoral fellowship at Boston Children’s Hospital and MIT in the laboratory of Dr. Robert Langer. Dr. Moses is the recipient of a number of NIH and foundation grants and numerous awards and honors. Most recently, she was the 2021 recipient of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR)-Women in Cancer Research Charlotte Friend Lectureship. Dr. Moses has been recognized with both of Harvard Medical School’s mentoring awards, the A. Clifford Barger Mentoring Award and the Joseph B. Martin Dean’s Leadership Award for the Advancement of Women Faculty. Marsha has received the Excellence in Mentoring Award from the Postdoc Association of Boston Children’s Hospital and has also received their Award for Exceptional Mentorship. She has also received the Honorary Member Mentoring Award from the Association of Women Surgeons of the American College of Surgeons.

Dr. Moses has been elected to the Institute of Medicine (National Academy of  Medicine) of the National Academies of the United States, the National Academy of Inventors, the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and was recently elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

BCRF Investigator Since


Donor Recognition

The Hale Family Award