Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Department of Pathology and Cancer Center investigator Bradley Bernstein is one of three recipients of the 2015 Paul Marks Prize for Cancer Research, given by the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC). Bernstein is a professor of pathology at MGH and Harvard Medical School, and an institute member of the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT.

Bernstein is being honored for his investigations into how the structural organization or “packaging” of our DNA within cells influences the functions of our genes. The packaging provides an additional layer of ‘epigenetic’ regulation that controls cellular differentiation and, when disrupted, contributes to cancer development.  He is the first MGH researcher to receive this prestigious prize.

The genes that code for the generation of proteins make up only 2 percent of the human genome. While much is yet to be learned about the remaining noncoding sequences, it has become clear that a major function is to regulate where and when coding genes are switched on and off — a process known as epigenetics.

The work has important implications for the development of precision therapies that address epigenetic defects in tumors.

The Paul Marks Prize was established in 2001 and is given every other year to up to three investigators age 45 or younger, “who are making significant contributions to the understanding of cancer or are improving the treatment of the disease through basic or clinical research.” Bernstein and his co-recipients — Howard Chang of Stanford University and Daniel Durocher of the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute — will receive their awards and speak on their research at a Dec. 3 scientific symposium at MSKCC.

Bernstein is a professor of pathology at MGH and Harvard Medical School, and an institute member of the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT.

Read Full Story