Tony Letai

Tony Letai, Associate Professor, Harvard Medical School and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Tony Letai received his MD and PhD at the University of Chicago. His PhD was done under the supervision of Elaine Fuchs. His thesis examined the role of point mutations in keratin proteins in heritable blistering diseases.

Dr. Letai then completed clinical training in Internal Medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston. Following this, he walked across the street to do a fellowship in Hematology and Oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. He was introduced to apoptosis and BCL-2 family proteins as a post-doctoral researcher in the laboratory of the late Stanley Korsmeyer. ​ In 2004, Dr. Letai became independent investigator at Harvard Medical School and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute where he is now an Associate Professor in Medicine. Since that time, his laboratory has studied how apoptosis can be evaded, particularly in cancer cells, and how this evasion may be detected and targeted. Key to these studies is a novel assay - BH3 profiling. BH3 profiling can detect what blocks cancer cells use to evade apoptosis and profiling detect cells that are dependent on BCL-2. Moreover, BH3 profiling can be used as a summary measure of how close a cell is to the threshold of apoptosis. The Letai lab has found that proximity to this threshold correlates with better response to chemotherapy in the clinic. The laboratory will be testing whether BH3 profiling can be used as a predictive biomarker in clinical cancer therapy. ​ In his free time, Dr. Letai likes to play soccer, play tennis, play music, and hang around the house to irritate his lovely wife, three kids, and dog.

Listen to the interview with Tony (published June 2018)

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