Congratulations to Nick, Rob and Shelby!

Congratulations are overdue, but well deserved for Dr. Nick Struntz, who was one of four post doctoral researchers to be awarded the MIT-GSK Gertrude B. Elion Research Fellowship. This new fellowship program in honor of the trailblazing Nobel laureate, Gertrude B. Elion, is awarded to select post doctoral associates focused on drug discovery and development who are pursuing fund research that has the potential to transform and modernize drug discovery. Congrats, Nick! 

Photo of the awardees (Nick is second from the left) included with the MIT News press release

Photo of the awardees (Nick is second from the left) included with the MIT News press release


Additional congratulations to Rob Wilson, who received the Fall 2017 Wishnok Prize for the Bioengineering and Toxicology Seminar (BATS), and to Shelby Doyle, who received Honorable Mention for Spring 2018 prize. Fantastic to see such great representation of the group by all of our graduate students in this important seminar series.


New Look--And New Faces!

Welcome to the new look for the Koehler Lab website!

In order to better share our science with our fellow scientists and curious members of our wider community, we have streamlined our page and updated our content. We hope you'll take the time to click around to see what's new, but we wanted to be sure to start with some new faces in the lab!

Early this year we welcomed post doctoral associate Dr. Brice Curtin. Brice received his PhD in chemistry from UCLA in 2017. His thesis work, which focused on synthetic peptidomimetics to target anti-apoptotic protein-protein interactions, was conducted under Dr. Partick Harran. He will be joining the MYC-focused team, where we are eager to see him leverage his knowledge of organic chemistry and protein-protein interactions. Welcome, Brice!

Welcome, to Catherine Henry, a graduate student in Biological Engineering at MIT!  Catherine received a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Virginia in 2016 and joins us from a year spent working at the Nation Cancer Institute (NCI) on in vitro models for colorectal cancer. She will be joining the existing team focused on oncogenic transcription factors in prostate cancer, and is very interested in developing the next generation of chemical technologies for tackling tough targets.

And last, but certainly not least, welcome to our littlest yet of young members, Sebastián Arturo Jensen Vegas, born on July 26th and waving hello in his work onesie. As you can see, the rest of the Koehler-Vegas subgroup is pleased to meet him and enjoying his company.

It should also be said that all of these 'hellos' have also meant we've recently said 'good luck!' to several members moving on from the lab to new positions. Good luck to those who have recently moved on: Dr. Helen Evans to ImmunoGen, Dr. Dave Freeman to Kronos Bio, Kimia Ziadkhanpour to Mount Sinai. As well as good luck to our recently departed visiting students now finishing up their theses at their home institutions: Jasmin Krüll, MS at Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen (Germany) and Rui Traquete at Instituto de Medicina Molecular (Portugal).

Stay tuned for more updates on news from the Koehler Lab!

Welcome Nick and Dave!

Archive from March 2016

The lab welcomes Dr. Nicholas Struntz, a chemical biology postdoc who comes to us from the Harki lab and the department of Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Minnesota. Nick is working on mechanism of action studies focused around a small molecule that binds to Max and identifying and evaluating context-specific Myc interactions. We also welcome Dr. David Freeman, a chemical biology postdoc who comes to us from the U.S. Army’s Public Health Command-Central located at JBSA Ft. Sam Houston in San Antonio Texas.  David completed his PhD studies in organic chemistry at Colorado State University where he studied welwitindolinone alkaloid natural products under the guidance of Professor John Wood.   David is interested in the use of small molecules to probe transcription factors in prostate cancer and adenoid cystic carcinoma.

Welcome Rob; Congrats Andrew!

January 2016

The lab welcomes Rob Wilson, a graduate student in Biological Engineering at MIT.  Rob joins us from Purdue University, where he studied biochemistry and worked on developing peptide probes for tyrosine kinase activity. He will be working on novel approaches to attenuate oncogenic Ras signaling, and is also interested in chemical modulation of protein stability.

Congratulations to  Andrew Chen, who recently won the Wishnok Prize for the Bioengineering and Toxicology Seminar (BATS)!The prize is awarded for the best talks in the Fall and Spring semesters, and is given in honor of Pete Wishnok, who led BATS for decades.  Congratulations, Andrew!!

Group wins Deshpande grant for translation efforts

Archive from October 2015

Congratulations to  Dr. Koehler, Francisco Caballero, and Eric Stefan, who were awarded a grant from MIT's Deshpande Center for Technical Innovation for their work on the c-Myc oncoprotein!  The Deshpande Center awards grants which fund proof-of-concept studies, and validation for emerging technologies.  The team has identified small molecules that bind to c-Myc containing complexes, and a smaller subset that modulate c-Myc function in cells, including c-Myc mediated transcription.  The project will explore the therapeutic potential of these small molecule binders.

Welcome Helen, Thijs, and baby Arabella!

Archive from July 2015

The lab welcomes Dr. Helen Evans, a synthetic chemistry postdoc who comes to us from the Ritter Lab and the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard. Helen is working on medicinal chemistry related to small molecules that modulate deregulated transcription in prostate cancer, with emphasis on natural products. We also welcome Thijs Wildschut, a visiting Master's student from Utrecht University. Thijs is part of a program focused on cancer, stem cells, and developmental biology, making him a perfect fit for our team focused on Myc-mediated transcription. Finally, we welcome another young member, Arabella Josefine Vegas, born on July 24th. Little Arabella is letting mom work on grant applications and lecture materials for 20.320 over the summer and steering clear of her toddler brothers Nico and Max.

Arabella Josefine Vegas

Arabella Josefine Vegas

Koehler Lab Booth for the Cambridge Science Festival

Archive from April 2015

The past few decades have seen tremendous strides in our understanding of cancer biology, but the translation of that knowledge into actionable information for cancer therapy is slow in several areas. In the Koehler lab, we seek to bridge this gap in the area of oncogenic transcription factors. These proteins that initiate transcriptional programs are often mutated or unregulated in cancer settings, but have been deemed “undruggable” by conventional drug discovery methods. Practically, our focus is on the discovery of small molecule probes for modulating transcription factors implicated in cancer using our small molecule microarray (SMM) technology.

During the recent KI Open House as part of the Cambridge Science Festival, we had the opportunity to illustrate this complex idea for young visitors.  At our lab’s interactive exhibit, we drew inspiration from Marvel Comics and developed a display that juxtaposed oncogenic transcription factors in two different states: as “good citizen” proteins, under normal conditions, and as “hulked-out” proteins in their cancer-causing state. Our booth featured an interactive macro-model of our SMM technology, which mimicked our probe-discovery process as a ring toss game.  We asked students how to calm the hulk down, and challenged them to find a molecule that “fit” with our pipe cleaner protein.  With more than 300 attending the event throughout the day, we are confident that at least a few more “small molecule detectives” are on the case!

Our outreach poster presenting cancer drivers as "hulked out" genes for children in the Cambridge community.

Our outreach poster presenting cancer drivers as "hulked out" genes for children in the Cambridge community.

Becky, Dylan, Shelby, and Andrew with a "ring-toss" small molecule microarray.

Becky, Dylan, Shelby, and Andrew with a "ring-toss" small molecule microarray.

Welcome Shelby!

Archive from January 2015

Welcome Shelby Pursley, a graduate student in Biological Engineering at MIT.  Shelby joins us from Louisiana State University, where she worked on gamete cryopreservation in microfluidic devices.  She will be joining an expanding team working on targeting oncogenic transcription factors, and is more specifically interested in exploring natural products, FDA approved drugs, and using novel compounds in combination for the treatment of prostate cancer.