Naama Kanarek, Ph.D.


Naama Kanarek, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Boston Children's Hospital, Harvard Medical School
300 Longwood Ave., Enders 1116.2
City, State, ZIP
Boston, MA 02115
[email protected]
Research field
Cancer Biology; Metabolism
Award year


The Kanarek lab will engineer a method for detecting the metabolites produced by individual cells, a key step toward unraveling what is different about the cancer cells that develop resistance to treatment, although they are genetically identical to other cells that are killed by the treatment. Metabolism represents the sum total of reactions that occur in every cell, and its products control cell growth, development, proliferation, and communication—behaviors that drive processes such as normal growth, cancer progression, and therapy resistance. But at any given time, the metabolism of individual cells varies somewhat, and this cell-to-cell variation can explain unique cell behaviors, such as survival in the face of cancer therapy. Several methods allow investigators to monitor the gene activity of individual cells, but few support large-scale analysis of single-cell metabolism. Now, using cutting-edge methods in cell and molecular biology, biochemistry, and engineering, I will design a system for simultaneously characterizing the gene expression and metabolic output of individual cells. The cells are cancer cells from children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and I will assess how individual cells change their metabolism following treatment with anticancer therapeutics that target metabolic pathways. This work could provide a method for predicting and tracking emerging drug resistance and suggest new approaches for the treatment of pediatric and other cancers.


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