Grant Will Buy State-of-the-Art Microscope

Cancer researchers at Tufts will benefit from a new device that allows scientists to see molecular interactions
August 15, 2013

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Prominent leukemia researcher Naomi Rosenberg, dean of the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences, and breast cancer specialist John Erban, M81, a professor of medicine at Tufts, are the recipients of a grant from Aid for Cancer Research (ACR) that will fund the purchase of a state-of-the-art inverted microscope sure to prove valuable in the work of a number of scientists within the Tufts community.

Using the new microscope—capable of displaying fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) in live cells—will let researchers directly observe the interaction of molecules with each other, says Rosenberg. “You can look at molecules thought to play key roles in cancer development and progression,” she says. Although the molecules themselves cannot be seen, they can be “tagged” so that the light they emit during their interaction is rendered visible through the microscope.

“You can look at molecules thought to play key roles in cancer development and progression,” says Naomi Rosenberg. Photo: Alonso NicholsAccording to Rosenberg, who serves as vice dean for research at the medical school, the device will benefit eight scientists based in different areas of Tufts, including one researcher at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, two working in the basic sciences at Tufts Medical School and five affiliated with the Molecular and Oncology Research Institute at Tufts Medical Center.

Rosenberg’s research has focused on mechanisms of leukemia development. She developed the first tractable model to study leukemia development in tissue culture—work that paved the way for crucial discoveries on the role of the abl gene in chronic myelogenous leukemia. She has served on the Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee of the NIH, the Board of Scientific Counselors of the National Cancer Institute and the board of directors of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of America.

Erban is an internationally renowned expert in breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. He is the clinical director and associate director for clinical research at the Tufts Cancer Center, where he is deeply involved in the clinical science research program. He is a past president of the Massachusetts Society of Clinical Oncology and serves as a member of the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group Breast Cancer Committee.

The grant, made in collaboration with Gin and Joe Freeman and Dynasty Runway, was announced May 23 at the Marriott Hotel in Boston as part of a ceremony marking the 65th anniversary of the ACR, an organization known for its fundraising efforts on behalf of cancer research in the Boston area.

Bruce Morgan can be reached at bruce.morgan@tufts.edu