Dr. Letai received his MD and PhD from the University of Chicago. He completed his residency in internal medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and a fellowship in hematology and oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI). He carried out his postdoctoral research training in the laboratory of Dr. Stanley Korsmeyer.
In 2004, Dr. Letai became an independent investigator at the Harvard Medical School and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, where he is now an Associate Professor of Medicine. His lab studies how apoptosis can be evaded, particularly in cancer cells, and how this evasion may be detected and targeted. Key to these studies is a novel assay we call BH3 profiling, which can detect the blocks cancer cells use to evade apoptosis and cells that are dependent on BCL-2. It can also be used as a summary measure of how close a cell is to the threshold of apoptosis. Dr. Letai has found that proximity to this threshold correlates with better response to chemotherapy in the clinic. The laboratory is testing whether BH3 profiling can be used as a predictive biomarker in clinical cancer therapy.