Jared Mayers is a resident in Internal Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, working towards a career that balances basic science research with clinical practice. After completing his undergraduate degree at Williams College, he earned his M.D. from Harvard Medical School and his Ph.D. in Biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research interests center on identifying and understanding the mechanisms driving whole body metabolic alterations and tissue interactions in early disease states. Outside of the hospital and lab, he enjoys running and spending time with his family.
Whole body metabolic alterations as an early event in cancer
Differences in how cancer and normal cells utilize nutrients have been linked to genetic changes in cancer, opening an opportunity for drugs targeting metabolism. Using blood samples collected from patients, many of whom went on to develop pancreatic cancer, as well as mouse models of pancreatic and non-small cell lung cancer, Mayers identified a “signature” of changes in a group of nutrients called branched chain amino acids. These changes reflect both an early breakdown of muscle in individuals with pancreatic cancer years before typical diagnosis and also differences in the use of these nutrients by both cancer types, despite their sharing common genetic alterations. This work highlights the importance of context, in addition to genetic changes, for defining the character and thus potential drug targets of individual cancers.