Partnership Success

To date, the UMass Boston - DF/HCC U54 Partnership has leveraged 35M in external research awards!

Established in 2013 at UMass Boston, The Center for Personalized Cancer Therapy is a new and innovative joint initiative between the University and DF/HCC. Led by Dr. Jill A. Macoska, the Alton J. Brann Endowed Chair and Distinguished Professor of Science and Mathematics, The CPCT has established a translational research program that will advance the instructional and research mission at UMass Boston. The CPCT's goals support platforms to facilitate high impact translational cancer research, focus research efforts on the development, validation, and commercialization of RNA- and protein-based cancer biomarkers, and provide UMass Boston students and U54 Partnership trainees with skills suitable for academic careers and employment.


UMass Boston has made significant progress in recruiting faculty who are involved in cancer and cancer health disparities. In the U54 competing application submitted in 2010, UMass Boston made a commitment to hire the Brann Endowed Chair, plus 9-11 faculty in cancer-related areas. The Brann Endowed Chair and Director of the Center for Personalized Cancer Therapy (CPCT) was hired in 2013; and since 2010, a total of 17 new faculty hires in the areas of cancer and cancer health disparities have been made.

33 faculty members from UMass Boston are associate members of the DF/HCC.

On the DF/HCC side, Dr. Katrina Armstrong was hired as a Physician-in-Chief of the Department of Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in 2013. Dr. Armstrong is a world-renowned investigator in the areas of medical decision-making, quality of care and cancer prevention and outcomes. Also, Dr. Reginald Tucker-Seeley, a URM cancer disparities researcher, was hired as a Research Associate/Instructor at HSPH in 2011. Dr. Tucker Seeley received a 2011 NCI Diversity Supplement for his work on a U54-funded project, followed by an R21 and K01 in 2012, and was promoted to Assistant Professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences at HSPH in 2013. Additionally, Dr. Andy Tan was hired in 2014 as an Assistant Professor at DFCI/HSPH to strengthen the translational communication science area.


Many of the UMass Boston faculty involved in the U54 Partnership are now co-located in the new Integrated Sciences Complex (ISC), a $182M building comprising 220,000 sq. ft. of laboratory, office, and teaching space which opened in Spring 2015. The CPCT and ISC are two examples of UMass Boston’s investment in research enterprise and new recruits; and the co-location will provide space and opportunities to conduct transdisciplinary research relevant to cancer.

In the next few years, UMass Boston will be pursuing mechanisms to fund the construction of a second Integrative Science Center.


To-date U54 Investigators have published over 206 research papers related to partnership projects. 

Drs. Wei Zhang (UMass Boston) and James Bradner (DF/HCC), the Co-Investigators of the U54 project “Synthesis and Screening of Chemical Libraries for Discovery of Novel Bromodomain Inhibitors,” filed a provisional US patent in July 2013 for their lead compound UMB-32. The provisional patent application was converted to a regular patent application on July 25, 2014 (WO2015013635A2). This patent is a joint and directly related outcome of their U54 research.


An accelerated Nursing PhD program in nursing, cancer and health disparities was established at UMass Boston, and significant U54 resources have been devoted toward developing a successful Nursing Postdoctoral Training Program. Since 2010, seven nursing postdocs have been trained at UMass Boston and DFCI; and to-date the nursing trainees have published 60 manuscripts on research related to cancer and health disparities. The Program leaders published a paper in Nursing Outlook describing the program: Reid Ponte, P.; Hayman, LL., Berry, D.; Cooley, ME. A new model for postdoctoral training: The Nursing Postdoctoral Program in Cancer and health Disparities. Nursing Outlook, 2015; 63(2), 189-203


Facilitated by the Research Education Core, more than 202 students have participated in and received cancer-related training from U56 and U54 research projects. More information on Student Training can be found here.

The UMass Boston - Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center

100 Morrissey Blvd. Wheatley Hall
3rd Floor
Room 60
Boston, MA 02125-3393 USA