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Neal Rosen, MD, PhD

Director, Center for Mechanism-Based Cancer Therapies
Enid A. Haupt Chair in Medical Oncology
Member, Medicine & Molecular Pharmacology & Chemistry
Director, Center for Mechanism-Based Cancer Therapeutics
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
New York, New York

Current Research

  • Seeking to improve response to targeted therapies.

  • Laboratory studies are ongoing to test rational combintation strategies to prevent resistance to targeted therapies.

  • Targeted thearpies are at the heart of precision medicine. These studies will lead to more effective combination approaches to improve patient response to these therapies.

Cancer growth is fueled by mutated or defective proteins that regulate important cellular pathways. In a way, tumor cells become "addicted" to the growth-promoting benefits caused by the defects. For this reason, targeted therapies have been developed in hopes of preventing tumor growth by blocking the activity of the mutated protein in the pathway. This approach, however, has not resulted in substantial clinical benefit in clinical trials.

Research by Dr. Rosen and colleagues has shown that although inhibition of these oncogenic pathways with targeted drugs slows tumor growth, it also results in the activation of compensatory pathways, reducing the anti-tumor effect of the drug.

The focus of Dr. Rosen's BCRF research is to understand tumor response to targeted therapies and to develop combination treatments to improve response to these therapies.

In the past year, they have elucidated key aspects of the mechanism of action of a class of drugs called PI3K inhibitors and have generated the most potent known inhibitor of mTOR, a protein that works with PI3K. This year, the team will apply this information to develop rational combination therapies for breast cancer.


Neal Rosen, MD, PhD, is the Director of the Center for Mechanism-Based Therapeutics at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and a Member in the Program in Molecular Pharmacology and Chemistry. His major interests include the study of the key molecular events and growth signaling pathways responsible for human cancers, and the use of this information for developing effective therapies. Dr. Rosen has played a leading role in the development of inhibitors of tyrosine kinase and RAS-mediated signaling and has pioneered the concept that feedback reactivation of parallel signaling pathways is a common cause of adaptive resistance to selective pathway inhibitors. Recent work includes the elucidation of the biochemical and biologic mechanisms of action of RAF inhibitors, the mechanisms underlying resistance to these compounds, and studies on the role of ERK-dependent feedback in tumors with RAF or RAS mutation. This research has led to many international clinical trials with promising early results.

BCRF Investigator Since


Donor Recognition

The Joseph and Arlene Taub Foundation Award

Area(s) of Focus