Nir Hacohen, PhD

Researcher | 2016

Nir Hacohen, PhD, an immunologist and geneticist, leads the Center for Cancer Immunology at the Mass General Cancer Center. Established in 2015, the center’s goal is to understand the role of the immune system in the proliferation of cancer, and to develop novel therapies that will enable the immune system to kill cancer cells. Within this center, Dr. Hacohen has assembled a dynamic research group of immunologists, geneticists, technologists and computational biologists that are exploring this rapidly emerging field.

In his own research, Dr. Hacohen investigates how and why the immune response varies so dramatically across individuals. His laboratory is adapting its unbiased analytic strategies into real-world therapeutics. In collaboration with his wife, Catherine Wu, MD, of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Dr. Hacohen has initiated clinical trials in which patients are vaccinated against their own tumors with a fully personalized vaccine based on a computational analysis of their personal tumor genome.

Dr. Hacohen is also having an impact outside the walls of the Mass General Cancer Center, working to breakdown institutional borders in the Boston research community to drive advances in the field. In November 2015, Dr. Hacohen co-led a cross-institutional retreat that brought together immunologists, cancer biologists, oncologists, computational biologists and technologists from Harvard Medical School, Mass General, Dana-Farber, MIT and the Broad Institute. The event provided a forum for leading investigators in the field of tumor immunity to share their work and identify opportunities for collaboration.

Dr. Hacohen is co-director of the Broad Institute Cell Circuits Program, co-director of the Broad Institute Center for Cell Circuits, and a founding principal investigator of the Broad Institute Genetic Perturbation Platform and Functional Genomics Consortium.

Meet two researchers at the Mass General Cancer Center who are activating the human immune system to target cancer within the body. Justin Gainor, MD, Nir Hacohen, PhD and 98 other caregivers, researchers, philanthropists, advocates and volunteers were honored as part of the one hundred in 2016 for their commitment to changing how we fight cancer.

Created and supported by the Mass General Cancer Center, the one hundred is an awareness and fundraising initiative that celebrates hope in the cancer community.

Story told by Jordan Rich of The Jordan Rich Show on WBZ NewsRadio 1030. Visit to learn more and meet the rest of our honorees.

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