For characterizing EGFR mutations in lung cancer, biological properties of circulating tumor cells in cancer, and WT1 and WTX tumor suppressors in Wilms’ tumor, and for contributing to the fundamental understanding of molecular carcinogenesis and drug sensitivity to inform the development of molecularly targeted therapeutics.
A distinguished leader and visionary, Dr. Haber has made critical findings that have driven the fields of cancer genetics and targeted drug therapy. His early research led to the characterization of the Wilms tumor 1 (WT1) gene, normally involved in kidney development and mutated in children with familial Wilms tumor. Overexpression of WT1 has since been observed in various blood malignancies and is currently being targeted in vaccine therapy clinical trials. Dr. Haber also cloned a second Wilms tumor suppressor gene, WTX, which functions through regulation of the Wnt signaling pathway. An expert in human cancer genetics, Dr. Haber also first reported the high prevalence of founder BRCA1 mutations in women of Ashkenazi Jewish descent with early onset breast cancer.
Dr. Haber is best known for his discovery of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutations in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), which contributed to a paradigm shift towards mutation-driven drug therapies for the treatment of NSCLC and other cancers. Specifically, he spearheaded studies that attempted to explain the observed variable patient responses to the EGFR inhibitor gefitinib. By analyzing tumor samples from patients who had dramatic responses, he discovered that virtually all had cancers with previously unknown EGFR mutations, which drive “oncogene addition” and drug susceptibility. In turn, this groundbreaking work made it possible to pre-select patients based on their EGFR status to determine who would respond best to EGFR-targeted therapy. These studies set the stage for routine genotyping of solid tumors at diagnosis as standard of care, to direct the applications of diverse targeted inhibitors in multiple cancers, including breast, lung, melanoma and gastrointestinal malignancies.
More recently, Dr. Haber’s research has centered on applying microfluidic devices to detect circulating tumor cells (CTC) in patient blood samples and establishing such technologies to guide therapeutic choices in cancer patients. Such technologies will not only provide novel insights into blood-borne metastasis and the identification of novel therapeutic targets but are also poised to enable non-invasive strategies for earlier cancer detection.
2018 Elected Member, National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C.
2011-2015 Board of Scientific Advisors, National Cancer Institute
2011-Present Editorial Board Member, Cancer Discovery
2011 Elected Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences
2010 AACR Team Science Award, AACR
2009 Elected Member, National Academy of Medicine, Washington, D.C.
2007-2010 Board of Directors, AACR
2007 AACR-Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Award, AACR
2005 Emil J Freireich Award in Clinical Cancer Research, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
2003 Elected Member, American Association of Physicians
2002-Present Editorial Board Member, Molecular Cancer Research
2001-Present Editorial Board Member, Cancer Cell
1999-Present Editorial Board Member, Cell