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William Sellers, MD

Core Institute Member and Director of the Cancer Program, Broad Institute
Professor of Medicine, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School

Dr. Sellers is a Core Institute Member and Director of the Cancer Program at the Broad Institute and a Professor of Medicine at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School. At the Broad Institute he runs a research group focused on translating genomic discoveries into new therapeutics. Previously, Dr. Sellers directed cancer drug discovery and early cancer clinical development at the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research overseeing scientists, clinicians and clinical staff on sites in Cambridge, Basel, Emeryville, East Hanover and Shanghai from 2005-2016. Since joining Novartis in 2005 the oncology research group brought more than 30 small molecule, biologic and cell-based cancer therapeutics into first-in-man trials including therapeutics targeting the PI3K, CDK4, IDH, ABL, SHP2, BRAF, SMO, HER3, ALK, Wnt, PIM and the Ras pathway among others. Ten therapeutics have reached market approval including encorafinib, alpelisib, ribociclib , asciminib and tisagenlecleucel.

During his tenure he conceptualized and directed the collaboration with the Broad Institute on the Cancer Cell Line Encyclopedia, the development of the Novartis Primary Derived Xenograft Encyclopedia and large-scale efforts to functionally characterize the cancer genome (Project DRIVE). Along with Dr. Carl June, he co-chaired the CART collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania that brought CTL019 to a recent FDA approval. He also built the Novartis Next Generation Diagnostics group.

He previously was an Associate Professor of Medicine at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School and an Associate Member of the Broad Institute. Together with Matthew Meyerson, he initiated and developed large-scale efforts to resequence genes in diverse cancer types. In addition they pioneered the use of high-density SNP arrays for defining LOH and copy number alterations across cancer including the development of the widely used GISTIC algorithm. These projects led to discovery of EGFR mutations in lung adenocarcinoma and the discovery of the oncogenic role of the MITF gene in melanoma. In addition, his work advanced the understanding of the molecular mechanisms of growth regulation of the PTEN tumor suppressor gene. Dr. Sellers was a member of the National Cancer Advisory Board. Dr. Sellers received his B.S. from Georgetown University in 1982 and M.D. from the University of Massachusetts Medical School in 1986. He completed residency training in Internal Medicine at the University of California San Francisco in 1989 and trained in Medical Oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Other Facts

  • Fellow in Oncology at DFCI
  • Post-doc at DFCI with Bill Kaelin and David Livingston and worked on the RB tumor suppressor gene
  • Independent Investigator at DFCI, worked on the PTEN tumor suppressor pathway
  • Initiated cancer genome discovery efforts with Matthew Meyerson including Kinome Sequencing project and the development of SNP arrays for copy number alteration detection. Co-led the Cancer Genome group with Matthew Meyerson first at the Whitehead Institute Genome Center and then the Broad Institute.