A Q&A with Massimo Loda, MD, New Editor-in-Chief
Massimo Loda, MD
Professor of Pathology, Emeritus
Harvard Medical School
Professor and Chair,
Department of Pathology and
Weill Cornell Medicine,
In this interview with Dr. Loda, he describes his path to becoming a cancer researcher, Molecular Cancer Research’s (MCR) role in shaping the cancer research conversation, and the future of the field.
Q: What drew you to a career studying cancer?
A: I have had an interest in the pathogenesis of disease since medical school. This interest focused increasingly on cancer when it became apparent to me that it was both a devastating and poorly understood disease. I reasoned that the increasing availability of novel and powerful methodological and technical approaches in the laboratory would lead to rapid and significant advances in understanding the biological underpinning of cancer pathogenesis and progression and, as a result, to better targeted therapies. Some of this has indeed happened but a great deal remains to be discovered in cancer biology.
Q: Describe the unique perspective that you bring with you as the new MCR Editor-in-Chief.
A: Because of my background and what I believe is important and understudied, particular emphasis will be devoted to cancer metabolism and the role of the microenvironment in altering the course of the disease. I am fond of building on knowledge that my discipline, pathology, has accumulated over the years in the field of cancer and complementing it with new mechanistic insights that validate prior observations. Moreover, validation in the laboratory of important observations, at the population level, is an aspect of cancer research that deserves expansion. Finally, areas that deserve attention include dormancy, cell of origin of subtypes of solid tumors, as well as the relationship between aging and cancer.
Q: What role do you foresee for MCR in shaping the cancer research conversation?
A: MCR will continue to provide a forum for understanding the mechanisms of cancer pathogenesis and progression, arguably the most important mission in the next decade. More specifically, while the focus of the journal will continue to be on a wide range of biological processes that are altered in cancer, multidisciplinary science will be encouraged.
Q: What excites you most about the next decade in cancer research?
A: Many things excite me: the availability of major technical advances at the tissue/cell/molecular level, the availability of increasingly sophisticated cancer models, the ability to study cancer in the context of the organismal predisposition and host environment, and the immune and stromal microenvironment. In addition, the therapeutic armamentarium is becoming increasingly targeted. The combination of exponential growth in the understanding of cancer biology and the tool kit to manipulate it will result in new discoveries and better therapies.