Dr. Demetri’s academic career has been devoted to applying novel insights from fundamental molecular biological and biochemical research to the problems of human cancer to develop rationally targeted anti-cancer therapeutics in an academic environment.
His research program focuses heavily on translational and clinical science that will accelerate the development of novel experimental therapeutic agents targeting specific signaling pathways in molecularly defined subtypes of cancer, with a major focus on mesenchymal neoplasms and sarcomas.
His most noteworthy successes have changed the standards of care for patients with sarcomas and gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST), leading to the FDA and worldwide regulatory approval of imatinib (Gleevec in 2002), sunitinib (Sutent in 2006) and regorafenib (Stivarga in 2013) for GIST, as well as trabectedin (Yondelis outside the USA in 2007) and pazopanib (Votrient in 2012) for other sarcomas. The academic insights that they have developed in sarcomas are also highly relevant to translational and clinical investigation in more common forms of cancer, and the program is expanding across Harvard and the Broad Institute to build long-term research strategies to target cancers based on genomic, metabolomic and immunobiologic criteria of vulnerability based on defined molecular mechanisms.
In addition to serving as the co-director of the Ludwig Center, he is an associate director for clinical sciences at the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center, the NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center of Harvard University. Through these roles, he is able to link basic, translational and clinical research initiatives across multiple departments to bring together new collaborations focused on experimental therapeutics within the Ludwig Cancer Research community.