The Forbes Group at the University of Massachusetts


Welcome to the Tumor Therapeutic and Bioengineering Laboratory

Research in the Forbes group specializes in utilizing fundamental engineering principles to understand the innate biological mechanisms of tumors and using that knowledge to develop cancer therapies. While most of our focus is on strategies against cancer, many of our advances and techniques could be applied to other diseases and bioengineering problems. Despite decades of research and billions of dollars in funding, cancer is still the second leading cause of death in the United States. Over the last century, researchers have discovered many of the genetic causes of cancer and yet hundreds of thousands of people die each year. Many patients do not respond well to current therapies because most solid human tumors contain subpopulations of cells that are resistant to therapeutics. The application of core engineering principles is necessary to understand how nutrient diffusion and cellular metabolism gives rise to resistant cells.

In our group the cancer problem is being addressed in two ways: we use experimental and computational methods to understand the cellular mechanisms that give rise to drug resistance in tumors and we use engineering methods to design therapeutic strategies to overcome resistance in tumors. We are primarily working to create genetically modified bacteria that target the therapeutically resistant regions of tumors and secrete cancer-killing compounds. We call this approach intratumoral therapeutic delivery. Our ultimate goals are to generate computational tools capable of predicting optimal therapeutic strategies for cancer patients and to create treatment modalities that effectively treat patients with resistant tumors. Succeeding at these goals will increase therapeutic efficiency and increase the live expectancy of cancer patients.

Our research group is unique because it is a interdisciplinary program that combines elements from multiple fields, including chemical engineering, tumor biology, microbiology, veterinary science and oncology. The elements that we combine from these fields include 1) mathematical modeling, 2) in vitro tumor model development, 3) micro-scale device fabrication 4) genetic manipulation, and 4) small animal experimentation. We believe this combination of these elements is necessary to achieve our goal to understanding and overcoming drug resistance in tumors.

We have been highlighted in the following media sources:

The Wall Street Journal The Daily Hampshire Gazette
The Springfield Republican ABC News 40
The UMass Collegian
World Poultry newsletter  


We gratefully appreciate funding support from the following organizations:

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