Thanks to Henri A. Termeer and Belinda A. Herrera-Termeer’s $10 million gift, Massachusetts General Hospital has built a world-class center dedicated to developing drugs that target genetic weaknesses within tumors to treat many types of cancer.
On Oct. 2, 2012, the Termeers and their guests gathered for a ribbon-cutting to unveil the new center for early phase clinical trials. That same day, Mass General Cancer Center Director Daniel A. Haber, MD, PhD, hosted an educational symposium to mark the occasion. Presentations from Robert A. Weinberg, PhD, a member of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research and a biology professor at MIT; Keith T. Flaherty, MD, director of the Termeer Center; and Jeffrey A. Engelman, MD, PhD, director of Molecular Therapeutics discussed targeted therapies and the role of the Termeer Center.
Mr. Termeer expressed his family’s commitment to Mass General and his vision for cancer research and care. “The ultimate goal is to make the targeted approach the protocol for all cancer treatment, changing the way we think about research and innovation,” Mr. Termeer said. “This is a global effort, but the Mass General Cancer Center is leading the way.”
Peter L. Slavin, MD, president, Mass General, spoke at the reception to thank Mr. and Mrs. Termeer. In addition, John P. Murphy, a melanoma survivor and patient of Donald P. Lawrence, MD, clinical director of the Mass General Center for Melanoma, spoke about his experience with targeted therapies.
The Termeer Center aims to speed the discovery and delivery of new targeted therapies by identifying specific genetic mutations that enable tumors to thrive. The targeted therapies are made to match these abnormalities, so they can attack the tumor on a molecular level. This represents a significant shift in the focus of research and care. Instead of looking at the cancer based on location, scientists hone in on the genetics of each individual’s cancer cells to create a unique treatment plan.
The Termeer Center’s goal is to cut the average time for drug development in half and make therapy more accessible.