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The one hundred honoree: James E. Bradner, MD

Innovation Story

The one hundred honoree: James E. Bradner, MD

Mass General Giving

Physician-scientist James Bradner, MD, leads a discovery chemistry laboratory at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. He and his team are working to discover and develop new chemicals targeting pathways of cellular memory, as powerful tools for basic science and as prototype drugs for cancer medicine.

Dr. Bradner and his team have innovated and exemplified a new model of drug discovery, which empowers the international research community with free and unrestricted access to first-in-class drugs. In a field often driven by competitiveness and lengthy, secretive processes, Dr. Bradner is a vigorous advocate of open-source drug discovery, which promises to expedite the rapid translation of new medicines.

When Dr. Bradner’s laboratory discovered a molecule that, in mice, tricks certain cancer cells into behaving as normal cells, he sent samples to labs around the world. The strategy, he told The Atlantic, offers a “more efficient way to do science — and maybe the more honorable way.”

An associate member of the Chemical Biology Program at the Broad Institute and an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Bradner is also a scientific advisor to TargetCancer, which supports fast-track development of therapies for rare cancers. He facilitated its grant-making partnership with Nabeel Bardeesy, PhD, at Mass General, who is building the first comprehensive research program for cholangiocarcinoma.