Ed Harlow and his laboratory study the mechanisms that underlie the early stages of cancer development. He is best known for advances in our understanding of how cells determine when it is appropriate to divide and how these regulatory events are lost during the development of cancer. In 1988, his lab discovered how some viruses alter cell proliferation by producing proteins that interact with and inactivate negative regulators of proliferation. Loss of these “brakes” on proliferation leads to cell division at inappropriate times. This model is widely applicable to cancer, and the discovery of how these viruses subvert cell regulation led to major advances in our knowledge of how cells control cell division. His contributions have been recognized by many awards including the Sloan Prize from the General Motors Research Foundation, Bristol-Myers Squibb Award for Distinguished Achievements in Cancer Research, and Medal of Honor from the American Cancer Society. Dr. Harlow was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1993 and the Institute of Medicine in 1999. He is currently a Professor of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology at Harvard Medical School where he holds the Virginia and DK Ludwig Chair for Cancer Research and Teaching.
Ed Harlow did his undergraduate training at the University of Oklahoma and received his Ph.D. from the Imperial Cancer Research Fund Laboratories (London, England) in 1982. Much of his early work on the function of viral proteins was performed while on staff at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory from 1982 to 1990. In 1990 he moved to Boston to become the Scientific Director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center. From 1995 until 1998 he led the planning efforts for the nation’s cancer research efforts while an Associate Director at the National Cancer Institute, and he currently serves as a Senior Advisor to the Director of the National Cancer Institute. In 1998, he became the chair of the Department of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology at Harvard Medical School. From 2009 to 2011, while on leave from Harvard, Dr. Harlow was the Chief Scientific Officer of Constellation Pharmaceuticals, a biotechnology company in Cambridge, MA, that is developing small molecule inhibitors for cancer therapeutics. He is also co-author with David Lane of one the most widely used manuals for biology research, entitled Antibodies, A Laboratory Manual. He has published extensively in distinguished peer-reviewed journals and is an inventor on 36 US patents.