Why colorectal cancer? Colorectal cancer (CRC) represents a large unmet medical need. It is the third most common cancer worldwide and the fourth leading cause of cancer death. Colon cancer is increasing in individuals under 50 years of age with poor diet, reduced activity, and increased obesity thought to be contributing factors. Currently, many cancers are benefiting from recent advances in therapies that block immune checkpoint receptors. Unfortunately, checkpoint receptor blockade has been largely ineffective in colorectal cancer. Although colorectal cancer has been the subject of research for many years, the Evergrande Center’s Flagship Project will take a new approach, focusing on the immunobiological characteristics of the disease using a multi-pronged strategy that leverages cutting-edge technologies to examine the relationship between the immune system, the gut microbiome, and the characterization of gut tissue itself during health and during the development of colorectal cancer. By combining direct human observations with parallel studies in experimental models, Flagship Project investigators will define the cellular and molecular ecosystem of colorectal cancer and use the resulting knowledge to develop better diagnostic, prognostic, and treatment tools. The Flagship project is bringing together clinicians, computational biologists, technologists, immunologists, pathologists, and bench scientists from Harvard Medical School and 5 affiliated Harvard institutions. The diverse and complementary skill sets of the clinical and research scientists engaged in the Flagship Project will enable rapid progress toward a new understanding of this important disease.
We wish to thank the patients who have participated in this research study.