The Toker Laboratory



Welcome to the Toker lab home page


Alex Toker is a Professor in the Department of Pathology at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, and Chief of the Division of Signal Transduction in Departments of Medicine, Pathology and Cancer Center. The lab has membership in the Biological and Biomedical Sciences PhD Program, the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center, and the Ludwig Center at Harvard.

Our research focuses on the cell and molecular biology of cancer. We are investigating the mechanisms by which signaling pathways impact tumor cell survival, invasion and metastasis. We are also studying metabolic alterations in tumor cells and how these lead to vulnerabilities that can be used to target tumors with specific therapies.  Our goal is to decipher the complex mechanisms by which these pathways impact cancer progression, with the ultimate goal of developing drugs that interfere with malignancy.

Recent Lab News
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  1. BulletThe lab welcomes Emily Erickson for her rotation in the HMS BBS Program. Welcome Emily!

  1. BulletThe lab welcomes TIara Lacey who joins the lab as part her internship

      for the 2018 SHURP Program at HMS. Welcome Tiara!

  1. BulletEvan Lien received his PhD From Harvard University during the 2107

    Commencement Exercises!!

  1. BulletThe lab bids farewell to Francisco Beca and Ozlem Senol-Cosar

     who move on to new adventures. Best of luck!

  1. BulletReview published! Manning BD, Toker A. AKT/PKB Signaling: Navigating the Network. Cell. 2017 Apr 20;169(3):381-405. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2017.04.001. 

  1. BulletAlex is featured in a video on the whizzo new JBC web page!

  1. BulletAnother review published!  Lien EC, Dibble CC, Toker A. PI3K signaling in cancer: beyond AKT. Current Opinion in Cell Biology. 2017 Mar 23;45:62-71. doi: 10.1016/

  1. BulletPaper published! Brown KK, Spinelli JB, Asara JM, Toker A. Adaptive Reprogramming of De Novo Pyrimidine Synthesis Is a Metabolic Vulnerability in Triple-Negative Breast Cancer. Cancer Discov. 2017 Mar 2. doi: 10.1158/2159-8290.CD-16-0611.

        BIDMC press release here, and Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research press release here.

  1. BulletAlex gave a talk in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Baylor College of Medicine on March 2.

  1. BulletRenee has been awarded an F31 graduate student fellowship from the National Cancer Institute. Congrats Renee!!

  1. BulletAlex gave a talk in the Department of Biochemistry at Boston University School of Medicine on February 6.

  1. BulletAlex gave a talk at Loyola University Chicago and the Stritch School of Medicine on January 18.

  1. BulletThe lab welcomes Francisco Beca, Instructor in Pathology and expert in precision cancer diagnostics. Welcome Francisco!

  1. BulletEvan Lien has left the lab and joined the laboratory of Matthew Vander Heiden at MIT/Koch Institute, Best of luck Evan!!

  1. BulletWhitney Henry has left the lab and joined the laboratory of Bob Weinberg at MIT/Whitehead Institute. Best of luck Whitney!!


  1. BulletPaper published! Aspirin suppresses growth in PI3K-mutant breast cancer by activating AMPK and inhibiting mTORC1 signaling Whitney S Henry, Tyler Laszewski, Tiffany Tsang, Francisco Beca, Andrew H. Beck, Sandra S McAllister and Alex Toker. Cancer Res December 9 2016 DOI: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-16-2400

  1. BulletAlex gave yet another talk at the 39th Annual Meeting of the

    Molecular Biology Society of Japan, Yokohama,  on December 2.

  1. BulletAlex gave yet another talk at the Fox Chase Cancer Center

     Research Symposium on Akt Signaling

          Celebrating 25 Years of Akt.

  1. BulletAlex gave a talk in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Wright State University on November 17. 

  1. BulletAlex gave a talk in the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Iowa on October 25.

  1. BulletAlex gave a talk at the 19th Annual John B. Little Symposium at the Harvard School of Public Health on October 22.

  1. BulletEmily Cohen has received a T32 NHLBI Training Grant award. Congrats Emily!

  1. BulletThe lab welcome Blake Chancellor for his BBS PhD lab rotation. Welcome Blake!

  1. BulletPaper published! Henry, W., Hendrickson, D., Beca, F., Glass, B., Lindahl-Allen, M., He, L., Ji, Z., Struhl, K., Beck, A., Rinn, J., & Toker, A. (2016). LINC00520 is induced by Src, STAT3, and PI3K and plays a functional role in breast cancer. Oncotarget, 5.

  1. BulletThe lab welcomes new post-doctoral fellow Ozlem Senol-Cosar, who recently completed her PhD at U Mass Worcester. Welcome Ozlem!

  1. BulletThe lab bids farewell to Caterina Vianello who returns home to Padova to complete her PhD. Ciao Caterina, best of luck, we will miss you!

  1. BulletThe lab bids farewell to Whitney Henry, who will be moving to MIT and the laboratory of Bob Weinberg for her post-doctoral fellowship. Best of luck Whitney, we will miss you!

  1. BulletThe lab bids farewell to Kristin Brown, who will be starting her own research laboratory at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Center in Melbourne, Australia! Best of luck Kristin, we will miss you!

  1. BulletThe lab bids farewell to Tiffany Tsang, who will be starting graduate school at U Penn! Best of luck Tiffany, we will miss you!

  1. BulletThe lab welcomes Hui Liu, Instructor in Medicine, and KangKang Yang, Research Assistant, as the newest members of the Toker lab! Welcome!!

  1. BulletThe lab welcomes Laura Ghisolfi, new Senior Research Associate. Welcome Laura!

  1. BulletBanner event! Whitney Henry was married to Joel Durand in a

     beautiful ceremony in St. Lucia, June 11!! Congrats to the lovely couple!

  1. BulletAlex was awarded a new R01 grant from the NCI on:

     Exploiting Metabolic Vulnerabilities in the PI3K and Akt

     Pathway in Cancer for Therapeutic Benefit

  1. BulletAlex gave a seminar at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the

    Department of Developmental and Molecular Biology, May 24.

  1. BulletAlex gave a talk at the FASEB Science Research Conference

     Cell Signaling in Cancer: From Mechanisms to Therapy in Snowmass, CO.

  1. BulletWhitney Henry received her PhD From Harvard University during the 2106

    Commencement Exercises!!

  1. BulletPaper Published! Lien EC, Lyssiotis CA, Juvekar A, Hu H, Asara JM, Cantley LC, Toker A. Glutathione biosynthesis is a metabolic vulnerability in PI(3)K/Akt-driven breast cancer. Nat Cell Biol. 2016 May;18(5):572-8. doi: 10.1038/ncb3341.

        See the BIDMC press release and other press here (Science Daily) and here (HMS).  

  1. BulletPaper Published! Maria Mancini, Evan Lien and Alex Toker. Oncogenic ATK1(E17K) mutation induces mammary hyperplasia but prevents HER2-driven tumorigenesis. Oncotarget 2016, DOI: 10.18632/oncotarget.8191

        The paper made the cover, and you can also see an interview with Alex and Maria here!

  1. BulletThe lab welcomes Sneha Dutta from the Harvard School of Public Health for her PhD rotation!

  1. BulletThe lab welcomes Caterina Vianello, from the University of Padova, joining the lab for 6 months. Welcome Caterina! 

  1. BulletReview published! Renee Geck and Alex Toker. Nonessential Amino Acid Metabolism in Cancer. Advances in Biological Regulation, 2016: Jan 21.pii: S2212-4926(15)30042-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jbior.2016.01.001.

  1. BulletEvan Lien has been awarded an Albert J. Ryan Fellowship for 2016. Congratulations Evan!

  1. Bullet Lab Baby!! Alex Toker and Nicole Homeier welcomed a beautiful baby girl,

     Leyla Lea Homeier-Toker.

  1. BulletAlex gave a seminar at Hokkaido University, Institute for Genetic Medicine,

    Sapporo, Japan, on January 29 2016.

Archived News