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The one hundred honoree: Cyril Benes, PhD

Innovation Story

The one hundred honoree: Cyril Benes, PhD

Mass General Giving

Cyril Benes, PhD, leads the Center for Molecular Therapeutics at the Mass General Cancer Center, which conducts cutting-edge research on the design and application of personalized therapies for cancer.

In collaboration with the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in the United Kingdom, the Benes Laboratory is exploring how specific genetic changes in tumor cells influence sensitivity to anti-cancer drugs. Dr. Benes and his colleagues have pioneered the use of a high-throughput robotic platform to screen more than 1,000 human cancer cell lines in the laboratory against a wide range of known and potential cancer therapies. Among the goals are identifying specific biological markers on tumor cells that will help doctors choose the best targeted therapy for each patient, and discovering new treatment options for many different cancers.

Even the most successful targeted therapy often stops working because the patient’s cancer cells become resistant to the drug. Dr. Benes and his team are investigating the molecular mechanisms underlying this “acquired” resistance and devising new ways to block it. One key strategy is to study the impact of delivering drugs in combination to prevent the onset of resistance. This and other approaches may lead to new cures, or at least transform previously lethal cancers into manageable chronic diseases.

Nicholas Dyson, PhD, scientific director of the Mass General Cancer Center, says of Dr. Benes, “Cyril’s leadership, his insightfulness, his commitment to this research and his energy in building collaborations are major reasons for the success of the Center for Molecular Therapeutics.”