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About

Who we are

The Break Through Cancer team is dedicated to demonstrating proof-of-concept of a new, collaborative approach to cancer research—helping accelerate research, clinical trials, new treatments, and ideally, cures for the most lethal cancers.

Tyler Jacks, PhD

Tyler Jacks, PhD
President

Dr. Tyler Jacks, the President of Break Through Cancer, has dedicated his life to cancer research. He is the Founding Director of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the David H. Koch Professor of Biology and Co-director of the Ludwig Center for Molecular Oncology. From 2001 – 2007, he served as director of the Koch Institute’s predecessor, the MIT Center for Cancer Research, and was a long-standing Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (1994-2021). Dr. Jacks received his bachelor’s degree in Biology from Harvard College, and his doctorate from the University of California, San Francisco, where he trained with Nobel Laureate Harold Varmus. He was a postdoctoral fellow with Robert Weinberg at the Whitehead Institute before joining the MIT faculty in 1992.

The Jacks laboratory at MIT’s Koch Institute studies the genetic events underlying the development of cancer. Dr. Jacks has pioneered the use of gene targeting technology in mice to study cancer-associated genes and to construct mouse models of many human cancer types, including cancers of the lung, pancreas, colon, thyroid, and soft tissue. These powerful, sophisticated models closely recapitulate human disease, and have led to novel insights into tumor development, as well as new strategies for cancer detection and treatment.

In recognition of his contributions to the study of cancer genetics, Dr. Jacks has received numerous awards, including the AACR Outstanding Achievement Award, the Amgen Award from the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the Paul Marks Prize for Cancer Research, the Sergio Lombroso Award in Cancer Research, and the AACR Princess Takamatsu Memorial Lectureship. He was a member of the Board of Directors of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), and served as the organization’s President in 2009.

Dr. Jacks is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and was a member of the inaugural class of Fellows of the AACR Academy. In 2015, Dr. Jacks received the Killian Faculty Achievement Award, the highest honor the MIT faculty can bestow upon one of its members. In 2016, Dr. Jacks co-chaired the Blue-Ribbon Panel for (then) Vice President Joe Biden’s Cancer Moonshot Initiative. He was also chair of the National Cancer Advisory Board of the National Cancer Institute during the Obama administration.

Dr. Jacks serves on the Board of Directors of Amgen and Thermo Fisher Scientific. He co-founded T2 Biosystems and Dragonfly Therapeutics, where he also serves as chair of the Scientific Advisory Board. He also is a member of the scientific advisory boards of Skyhawk Therapeutics, SQZ Biotech, the Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research, and the Francis Crick Institute. Dr. Jacks is a member of the Harvard University Board of Overseers.

Jesse Boehm, PhD

Jesse Boehm, PhD
Chief Science Officer

Jesse Boehm is the Chief Science Officer of Break Through Cancer and maintains a research lab focused on bringing the power of functional genomics to bear on living samples from cancer patients with particular emphasis on rare and underrepresented tumors.

Before joining Break Through Cancer, Jesse spent 14 years in the Broad Institute’s Cancer Program, most recently as an Institute Scientist and Scientific Director of the Cancer Dependency Map project. As the Director of the Broad’s Cancer Model Development Center (part of the National Cancer Institute’s Human Cancer Models Initiative), he led his laboratory in developing a scalable capacity to convert patient tumors into organoids and other cell models. Prior, he was the recipient of a Broad Institute Merkin Fellowship and the Associate Director of the Broad’s Cancer Program. In these leadership roles, he drove the scientific planning and strategic execution of a diverse set of program projects, collaborations, and activities for over a decade.

Propelling the “cancer research ecosystem of the future” to benefit patients as rapidly as possible is his ultimate professional passion and ambition.

Jesse received his BS in biology from MIT and his PhD from Harvard University, Division of Medical Sciences at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Bill Hulme, Chief Financial Officer

Bill Hulme
Chief Financial Officer

Bill Hulme has extensive finance and accounting experience having worked for 25 years for Procter and Gamble in a multitude of roles in both the US and Costa Rica. Most recently he served as a consultant for Deloitte and as a controller for Winter Wyman. Bill has a BS Degree in Accounting from Southern New Hampshire University.

Meredith Sandiford, Administrative Coordinator

Meredith Sandiford
Administrative Coordinator

Meredith Sandiford has spent much of her career in operations and event planning for various organizations including Golden Seeds, The Capital Network, and MassChallenge. She holds a BS in Animal Science from Texas A&M University and a Master’s of International Business from Northeastern University.

Lisa Schwarz, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Philanthropy Officer

Lisa Schwarz
Chief Operating Officer and Chief Philanthropy Officer

Over the last thirty years, Lisa Schwarz has raised philanthropic support for numerous institutions including MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, Harvard University, Massachusetts General Hospital, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Johns Hopkins University. She holds a BA in art history and communications from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College and an MPA from New York University.

What we do

Break Through Cancer’s purpose is simple, yet not easy. We are committed to empowering cancer researchers to join forces to solve challenging problems, regardless of institutional affiliation. We all believe in a world in which real cancer collaboration: sharing information, ideas, technologies across scientists and institutions, should not only be possible, but should be the norm. While the barriers to achieving this vision are significant, they can and must be solved. This is what drives Break Through Cancer.

When a patient receives a diagnosis from their oncologist, the news is devastating to the patient, their family, and their friends. Break Through Cancer is committed to changing this conversation, too, to one that is hopeful, not hopeless.

Break Through Cancer provides resources and support to inter-institutional teams of scientists, engineers, and clinical researchers from five of the country’s top cancer centers to focus aggressively on new diagnostics, treatments, and improved outcomes for some of the deadliest cancers which could include pancreatic cancer, ovarian cancer, glioblastoma, and acute myelogenous leukemia (AML).

How we do it

We collaborate:
We recognize the power in assembling innovative and diverse teams—scientists, engineers, and clinical researchers—who together will bring their individual expertise to bear on shared problems.

We innovate:
Collectively, we are smarter than cancer. With innovative thinking, cutting-edge technology, and multi-institutional collaboration, we are better equipped to think in front of the cancer, diagnose it earlier, treat patients strategically and more quickly, and ultimately outsmart cancer.

We hope:
The word cancer is synonymous with fear. We can change that. Break Through Cancer’s bold effort to beat some of the most challenging cancers is powered by hope—a hope for earlier diagnoses, better treatments, and longer tomorrows.

The power of multi-institutional collaboration to accelerate cancer research

For many years, the Commonwealth Foundation for Cancer Research, established by Mr. and Mrs. William H. Goodwin Jr., has supported the five outstanding cancer centers that today comprise the Break Through Cancer family of participating institutions.

In 2017, the Commonwealth Foundation for Cancer Research encouraged the five cancer centers to imagine the power of a multi-institutional collaboration to accelerate cancer research. The Foundation’s encouragement took on a new level of urgency when the Goodwin’s eldest son, Hunter, was diagnosed with late-stage cancer. The creation of a new foundation to support collaborative research became Hunter’s passion, and ultimately his legacy. He lost his battle with cancer in January 2020.

Break Through Cancer was conceived with Hunter’s advice and counsel, established in his memory, and serves as a beacon of hope for all patients and families who face what is today a hopeless diagnosis.

The Goodwin Family and the Estate of Hunter Goodwin have made a transformative $250M challenge pledge to Break Through Cancer. Their support seeds the foundation, giving us tremendous ammunition to work together to identify, shape, and resource the very best ideas and bring them to clinical implementation. Importantly, their gift challenges Break Through Cancer to raise significant additional support, so we may fund collaborative teams, bringing a greater sense of urgency and possibility to the Foundation’s life-changing work.

Alice and Bill Goodwin

Alice and Bill Goodwin
“We believe this effort to fight cancer, particularly with collaborative research, has a realistic probability of success. We want to help people have better lives. And we sincerely hope that by being public with our support, we will inspire others to support this incredible effort.” – Bill Goodwin

Make a difference

A visionary individual can be the genesis of an extraordinary idea: an idea, that when shared, begins to create momentum. A movement builds steam by laying out that bold vision and inviting others to participate, collaborate, and be a part of something that is bigger than any one person or any one institution.

To be a part of the Break Through Cancer movement or to learn how to support these bold ideas, please email us: info@breakthroughcancer.org