The Toker Laboratory


Alex Toker is a Professor in the Department of Pathology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Chief of the Division of Signal Transduction and Associate Director of the Cancer Research Institute in the 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.

We welcome inquiries from graduate students and postdocs. We are seeking highly motivated, collaborative trainees with an interest in studying the regulation and effects of oncogenic signaling in cancer. If you are a graduate student, please email Alex about your research interests. If you are seeking a postdoc position, please email us with your CV, three reference contacts, and research interests. 

Paper Published!! Congratulations to Christian Dibble

and Sam Barritt for a tour de force! 

Dibble CC, Barritt SA, Perry GE, Lien EC, Geck RC,

DuBois-Coyne SE, Bartee D, Zengeya TT, Cohen EB,

Yuan M, Hopkins BD, Meier JL, Clohessy JG, Asara JM,

Cantley LC, Toker A. PI3K drives the de novo synthesis

of coenzyme A from vitamin B5. Nature. 2022 Aug;608(7921):192-198. 

PDF freely available here. 

Toker/Manning/Dibble annual lab hike to the Blue Hills, 

August 18! With a pit stop at Trillium!

The lab bids farewell to Emily Erickson, who moves on after

her PhD to a new position at Blueprint Medicines. Best of 

luck Emily!  

The lab welcomes Emmalyn Lecky, for her first BBS rotation 

in the Toker lab. Welcome Emma!

Alex, Emily and Sam attended the FASEB SRC

on Protein Kinases and Protein Phosphorylation in

Oak Island, Nova Scotia, June 19-24.  Alex was a co-organizer

Emily and Sam presented posters and short talks! 

The Toker/Manning/Dibble labs retreat is back! After a 2 year 

hiatus, the labs reconvened for 3 days of science and fun 

at the Oliver Lodge, NH, June 15-17.

Summer is here! May 28, first lab BBQ of the season!

The lab welcomes Taylor Woodward, Research Assistant 

And newest member of the Toker lab. Welcome Taylor!

A banner day! May 26, HMS Commencement 2022, where

Dr. Renee Geck (PhD 2020) and Dr. Emily Erickson (PhD 2022)

formally received their doctorate degrees!  

The lab welcomes Ralitsa Madsen from UCL for a 3 month

visit to the lab!

The lab welcomes Shamya Noeen, undergrad summer intern!  

Alex, Josefina, Tash and Alissandra attended the FASEB SRC

on Cell Signaling in Cancer in New Orleans, May 15-19. 

Alex gave a talk, Alissandra and Tash presented posters, 

and Alissandra won a best poster prize!

The lab welcomes new BBS rotation student Jasmine Garcia

for her Toker lab rotation. Welcome Jasmine!

Alex gave a remote seminar at Virginia Commonwealth 

University on May 10. 

Alex and Adrija attended the annual ASBMB and Experimental

Biology 2022 meeting in Philadelphia, March 2-5. Alex gave

the 2022 Avanti Award Lipids award lecture. Alex was also

inaugurated into the 2022 Class of ASBMB Fellows. 

Alex attended the annual Pluto Society (American Association

of North American University Pathologists) meeting in

Amelia Island, Florida, March 19. 

A banner day in the Toker Lab! Emily Erickson defended

her PhD Thesis in the BBS Program at Harvard Medical School,

on ‘Targeting the PI3K/AKT Pathway Using pan-AKT Degraders’

on February 16th 2022. Congratulations Dr. Emily Erickson!!

We have made a lab video! 

Click here to view a new video on the people and

the research in the Toker lab, circa 2021. 


Emily presented a short talk on ‘Targeting the PI3K/AKT Pathway in Cancer using a Pan-AKT Degrader’ at a conference on Targeted Protein Degradation: From Drug Discovery to the Clinic hosted by the New York Academy of Sciences on Dec 8. 

Paper published! Alex and Emily co-authored a paper in PLOS Genetics with Ralitsa Madsen and Bart Vanhasebroeck. Madsen RR, Erickson EC, Rueda OM, Robin X, Caldas C, Toker A, Semple RK, Vanhaesebroeck B. Positive correlation between transcriptomic stemness and PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling scores in breast cancer, and a counterintuitive relationship with PIK3CA genotype. PLoS Genet. 2021 Nov 11;17(11):e1009876. 

Paper published! Alex, Hui and Renee co-authored a paper in Nature Cell Biology with the lab of Myles Brown at DFCI. Li Y, Qiu X, Wang X, Liu H, Geck RC, Tewari AK, Xiao T, Font-Tello A, Lim K, Jones KL, Morrow M, Vadhi R, Kao PL, Jaber A, Yerrum S, Xie Y, Chow KH, Cejas P, Nguyen QD, Long HW, Liu XS, Toker A, Brown M. FGFR-inhibitor-mediated dismissal of SWI/SNF complexes from YAP-dependent enhancers induces adaptive therapeutic resistance. Nat Cell Biol. 2021 Nov;23(11):1187-1198. 

The lab welcomes new post-doc Tashbib Khan, recent graduate from the University of Queensland, Australia. Welcome Tash!!

Alex has been named the recipient of the 2022 Avanti Award in Lipids from the ASBMB, and will be giving an award lecture at the ASBMB Annual meeting at EB2022 in Philadelphia, April 2-5.

Alex has been appointed the new Editor in Chief for the Journal of Biological Chemistry! His 5-year term began October 1st. Read the announcement here.

The lab welcomes new BBS rotation student Tevis Vitale for his first lab rotation. Welcome Tevis!

The lab welcomes new BBS rotation student Wafa Malik for her first lab rotation. Welcome Wafa!

The lab bids farewell to Caroline Zarzuela having completed her time the HMS RSI program. Farewell and best of luck Caroline!  

The lab welcomes new PhD student in the BBS program Josefina Mendez. Welcome Josefina!!

Alex gave a Zoom seminar at the University of Modena, Italy on May 20. 

Alex gave a Zoom seminar at the University of Padova, Italy on April 29. 

The lab welcomes new post-doc Gilbert Salloum, recent graduate from Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Welcome Gilbert!!

Alex gave a Zoom seminar at MSKCC Breast SPORE Rounds on March 16. 

Alex gave a Zoom lecture at the University of Bath Center for Therapeutic Innovation on March 11. 

Alex gave a Zoom seminar at the Institute of Cell Biology and Immunology at the University of Stuttgart, Germany on Feb. 4

Alex gave a Zoom seminar at the Institute for Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism at the Perelman School of Medicine at U Penn on Jan 26. 

Archived News