Picture of Thomas Roberts
Thomas McCoy Roberts, Ph.D.
Professor of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology

Research in the Roberts laboratory is centered on the molecular mechanisms of signal transduction in response to activated tyrosine kinases


Dr. Roberts is a Professor of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology at Harvard Medical School and serves as Co-Chairman for the Department of Cancer Biology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Dr. Roberts received his PhD from Harvard University where he also completed a postdoctoral fellowship. Dr Roberts’ laboratory has played a key role in the study of signal transduction and its translation into cancer therapy. The first definitive studies on phosphoinositide 3 (PI3) kinase were done by the Roberts lab in collaboration with the lab of Lewis Cantley.  In addition, the Roberts lab pioneered studies on the regulation of the serine/threonine kinase, Raf-1, and first characterized the interaction of 14-3-3 molecules with key signal transducers including Raf-1.   Due to the importance of PI3 kinase in human cancer, Roberts has studied it in detail, collaborating with Jean Zhao to generate conditional knockout mice for the commonly expressed catalytic subunits of PI3K.  The end goal of these studies, determining which isoforms to target in specific cancers, underlies the superior performance of isoform-specific inhibitors in the clinic.  Moreover, Zhao and Roberts gained a new understanding of a surprising functional specialization in the two enzymes (termed p110 and p110): p110 plays the major role in receptor tyrosine kinase and ras signaling, while p110 plays the major part in GPCR signaling and in tumors arising from PTEN loss.  Notably Dr Roberts’ basic research on tyrosine kinases carried out by Drs. Brian Druker and Helen Piwnica-Worms facilitated the kinase inhibitor program at Ciba Geigy, which led to the first successful tyrosine kinase cancer therapeutic, Gleevec.  Similarly, his research collaborations on PI3 kinase has facilitated the development of multiple classes of PI3Kinase inhibitors


Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Smith Building, Room 970A

450 Brookline Avenue

Boston, MA 02215

Publications View
Epigenetic regulation of RTK signaling.
Authors: Authors: Spangle JM, Roberts TM.
J Mol Med (Berl)
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The emerging role of PI3K/AKT-mediated epigenetic regulation in cancer.
Authors: Authors: Spangle JM, Roberts TM, Zhao JJ.
Biochim Biophys Acta Rev Cancer
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Tyrosine receptor kinase B is a drug target in astrocytomas.
Authors: Authors: Ni J, Xie S, Ramkissoon SH, Luu V, Sun Y, Bandopadhayay P, Beroukhim R, Roberts TM, Stiles CD, Segal RA, Ligon KL, Hahn WC, Zhao JJ.
Neuro Oncol
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Rac1-mediated membrane raft localization of PI3K/p110ß is required for its activation by GPCRs or PTEN loss.
Authors: Authors: Cizmecioglu O, Ni J, Xie S, Zhao JJ, Roberts TM.
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Delivery strategies and potential targets for siRNA in major cancer types.
Authors: Authors: Lee SJ, Kim MJ, Kwon IC, Roberts TM.
Adv Drug Deliv Rev
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Combined inhibition of PI3K and PARP is effective in the treatment of ovarian cancer cells with wild-type PIK3CA genes.
Authors: Authors: Wang D, Li C, Zhang Y, Wang M, Jiang N, Xiang L, Li T, Roberts TM, Zhao JJ, Cheng H, Liu P.
Gynecol Oncol
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Transformation by Polyomavirus Middle T Antigen Involves a Unique Bimodal Interaction with the Hippo Effector YAP.
Authors: Authors: Rouleau C, Pores Fernando AT, Hwang JH, Faure N, Jiang T, White EA, Roberts TM, Schaffhausen BS.
J Virol
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PI3K-p110a mediates resistance to HER2-targeted therapy in HER2+, PTEN-deficient breast cancers.
Authors: Authors: Wang Q, Liu P, Spangle JM, Von T, Roberts TM, Lin NU, Krop IE, Winer EP, Zhao JJ.
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Combination inhibition of PI3K and mTORC1 yields durable remissions in mice bearing orthotopic patient-derived xenografts of HER2-positive breast cancer brain metastases.
Authors: Authors: Ni J, Ramkissoon SH, Xie S, Goel S, Stover DG, Guo H, Luu V, Marco E, Ramkissoon LA, Kang YJ, Hayashi M, Nguyen QD, Ligon AH, Du R, Claus EB, Alexander BM, Yuan GC, Wang ZC, Iglehart JD, Krop IE, Roberts TM, Winer EP, Lin NU, Ligon KL, Zhao JJ.
Nat Med
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PI3K/AKT Signaling Regulates H3K4 Methylation in Breast Cancer.
Authors: Authors: Spangle JM, Dreijerink KM, Groner AC, Cheng H, Ohlson CE, Reyes J, Lin CY, Bradner J, Zhao JJ, Roberts TM, Brown M.
Cell Rep
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