DCI Seminar Series / New Location (3.2.16)

February 29, 2016
By: Karen E. Butler , Director of Communications, DCI

William R. Sellers, MD, vice president and global head of Oncology at the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, will present "The Genetic Basis for Cancer Therapy" at the next DCI Seminar Series, which will be held on Wednesday, March 2.

Sellers directs cancer drug discovery and early cancer clinical development at the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research overseeing scientists, clinicians and clinical staff on sites in Cambridge, East Hanover, Basel and Shanghai. In his current role he oversees an organization with a research and clinical budget of ~350M US and ~600 FTEs. Since joining Novartis in 2005 the oncology research group has brought more than 30 small molecule, biologic and cell-based cancer therapeutics into first-in-man trials including drugs targeting the PI3K, IDH, ABL, SMO, HER3, Wnt, PIM and Ras pathways among many others. Since 2011 Sellers has overseen the development and operations of the NextGen Dx research group dedicated to applying NGDx assays to Novartis clinical trials and to the elaboration of commercial NGDx products. Since 2014 he has overseen the Translational Clinical Oncology (TCO) and Oncology Translational research groups. The TCO organization oversees the clinical development of molecules from GLP toxicology to human proof-of-concept. Currently the TCO organization is investigating 23 unique molecular entities in single agent and combination trials and an additional 15 projects are in IND enabling studies with an anticipated 9 NME’s entering phase I in 2016.

During Seller's tenure he oversaw the concepts and execution of the collaboration with the Broad Institute on the Cancer Cell Line Encyclopedia, organized and gained institutional commitments for the renewal of Dana-Farber–NIBR joint research program and oversaw the conception and execution of the CART collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania. He oversaw the development of industry collaborations with Immunogen (ADC technology), SGX pharmaceuticals, Infinity Pharmaceuticals, Servier, Incyte, Aurigene and Vernalis.

Sellers previously was an Associate Professor of Medicine at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School and an Associate Member of the Broad Institute. Towards the larger goal of comprehensive elucidation of genetic alterations in cancer, together with Matthew Meyerson, they initiated and developed large-scale efforts to resequence genes in diverse cancer types. In addition they pioneered the use of high-density SNP arrays for defining LOH and copy number alterations across a broad spectrum of cancer. These cancer genome projects led to discovery of EGFR mutations in lung adenocarcinoma and the discovery of the oncogenic role of the MITF gene in melanoma. In addition, Seller's work advanced the understanding of the molecular mechanisms of growth regulation of the PTEN tumor suppressor gene. Sellers is a member of the National Cancer Advisory Board and serves on the Scientific Advisory Board for the Caring for Carcinoid Foundation. He received his B.S. from Georgetown University in 1982 and M.D. from the University of Massachusetts Medical School in 1986. He completed residency training in Internal Medicine at the University of California San Francisco in 1989 and trained in Medical Oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

The DCI Seminar Series lecture will be held on Wednesday, March 2, in Room 143 of the Jones Building. The lecture begins at 8:10 a.m. and ends at 9 a.m. Gambhir’s address will be preceded by a hematology-oncology fellow presentation starting at 7:30 a.m. The March 2 DCI Seminar Series is presented by the DCI Cancer Genetics and Genomics Program. All are invited to attend. For more information, contact Erin Carr.