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Symposium marks 25 years of fighting cancer

Cancer research pioneers David Baltimore and Robert A. Weinberg are among the speakers at a Center for Cancer Research (CCR) symposium on Friday, June 18 in Kresge Auditorium.

The symposium, which commemorates the CCR's 25 years of basic cancer research, will look at innovative approaches for understanding and combating cancer. The CCR has helped revolutionize the way scientists think about the origins of human cancer and paved the way for powerful new technologies in cancer diagnosis and treatment.

The symposium will highlight notable CCR achievements such as Professor Weinberg's discovery of the first human oncogene (cancer-causing gene) and Nobel Prize-winning research on RNA splicing. Dr. Weinberg, the David K. Ludwig Professor for Cancer Research and American Cancer Society Professor of Biology at the Department of Biology, will speak on "Genes That Make Human Cancer Cells." He also is a founding member of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research.

Professor Baltimore, president of the California Institute of Technology, a former MIT professor and founding member of the CCR, will speak on "Old Directions and New Ones."

The Center for Cancer Research opened in 1974. It draws its faculty from MIT's world-renowned biology department, which conducts research in cellular, developmental and molecular biology, biochemistry and structural biology, classical and molecular genetics, immunology, microbiology, neurobiology, virology and plant biology.

Three Nobel prizes (to Dr. Baltimore; Phillip A. Sharp, head of the biology department; and Susumu Tonegawa, professor of biology) have been awarded to CCR faculty during its 25 years. Five of the 12 current CCR core faculty are members of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences.

"Truly novel advances in cancer research come from a deeper understanding of the molecular and cellular bases of cancer," said Professor Richard O. Hynes, director of the CCR. "With the help of some truly great people, both faculty and trainees, the MIT Center for Cancer Research has been at the forefront of this endeavor, but there is still a lot of work to be done.

"It has been an exciting 25 years, and the coming years promise to be even more productive," he said.

In addition to Professors Weinberg and Baltimore, returning CCR alumni/ae speaking at the symposium are Frederick Alt of Children's Hospital in Boston; Susan Berget of Baylor College of Medicine; Webster Cavenee of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research; Ihor Lemischka of Princeton University; Lorraine Pillus of the University of California at San Diego; Martin Schwartz of Scripps Research Institute; Nancy Speck of Dartmouth Medical School; Inder Verma of the Salk Institute; and Owen Witte of the University of California at Los Angeles.

For more information, call x3-6400 or see the CCR 25th anniversary web site.

A version of this article appeared in the June 9, 1999 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 43, Number 33).

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