The Toker Laboratory


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.

Christian Dibble has been promoted to Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School!! He will be starting his own lab in the Dept. Pathology at BIDMC. Congrats Christian!


First annual Manning/Toker labs retreat at Oliver Lodge

Lake Winnipesaukee, NH, Sept 19-21!



The lab welcomes Sam Barritt, PhD student in the HMS

BBS graduate program, for his first lab rotation.

Welcome Sam!


The lab welcomes Tom Thomas, new post-doc in the

Toker lab, who recently received his PhD from

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in LA. Welcome Tom!


Alex gave a talk at the FASEB Science Research Conference on Protein Kinases and Protein Phosphorylation at Robinson College, Cambridge University, UK, August 6-11.


The lab welcomes Emily Erickson who has joined the lab for her PhD in the BBS Program. Welcome back Emily!


The lab welcomes Richard Thornton who joins the lab as a post-baccalaureate student enrolled at Harvard University. Welcome Richard!


The lab welcomes Emily Erickson for her rotation in the HMS BBS Program. Welcome Emily!


The lab welcomes Tiara Lacey who joins the lab as part of her

internship for the 2018 SHURP Program at HMS. Welcome Tiara!


Evan Lien received his PhD From Harvard University during the

2107 Commencement Exercises!!


The lab bids farewell to Francisco Beca and

Ozlem Senol-Cosar who move on to new adventures. Best of luck!


Review 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. 


Alex is featured in a video on the whizzo new JBC web page!


Another 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/


Paper 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.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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




Paper 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


Alex gave yet another talk at the 39th Annual Meeting of the Molecular Biology Society of Japan, Yokohama,  on December 2.


Alex gave yet another talk at the Fox Chase Cancer Center Research Symposium on Akt Signaling Celebrating 25 Years of Akt.


Alex gave a talk in the Department of Biochemistry

and Molecular Biology at Wright State University on

November 17. 


Alex gave a talk in the Department of Pharmacology

at the University of Iowa on October 25.


Alex gave a talk at the 19th Annual John B. Little Symposium

at the Harvard School of Public Health on October 22.


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


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


Paper 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.


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


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


The 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!


The 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!


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


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


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


Banner event! Whitney Henry was married to Joel Durand

in a beautiful ceremony in St. Lucia, June 11!!

Congrats to the lovely couple!


Alex was awarded a new R01 grant from the NCI on:

Exploiting Metabolic Vulnerabilities in the PI3K and Akt

Pathway in Cancer for Therapeutic Benefit


Alex gave a seminar at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Department of

Developmental and Molecular Biology, May 24.


Alex gave a talk at the FASEB Science Research Conference

on Cell Signaling in Cancer: From Mechanisms to Therapy

in Snowmass, CO.


Whitney Henry received her PhD From Harvard University during the

2106 Commencement Exercises!!


Paper 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).  


Paper 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!


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


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


Review 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.


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


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

Leyla Lea Homeier-Toker.


Alex gave a seminar at Hokkaido University, Institute for Genetic Medicine,

Sapporo, Japan, on January 29 2016.


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