George Demetri, MD has dedicated his career to translational and clinical research aimed at developing practical therapies from scientific mechanisms to treat life-threatening sarcomas and other cancers.
He was a pioneer in the development of imatinib (Gleevec) in gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST), a molecularly-defined subset of sarcomas, as one of the first examples of targeted cancer therapy for a treatment-resistant solid tumor. Research from his collaborative efforts has resulted in FDA and worldwide regulatory approval of several other “smart drugs” for cancer, including sunitinib (Sutent) and regorafenib (Stivarga) for GIST, as well as pazopanib (Votrient), trabectedin (Yondelis) and eribulin (Halaven) for other sarcomas. In a related context, Dr. Demetri served on the Scientific Advisory Board for Plexxikon and was a member of the team which developed the BRAF inhibitor vemurafenib (Zelboraf) as the first mutation-targeted therapy for a molecularly-defined subset of melanomas.
At Dana-Farber and Harvard, Dr. Demetri is a Director (along with Joan Brugge, PhD) of the Ludwig Center at Harvard, forming a collaboration of more than 30 investigative teams across Harvard-affiliated institutions to find new vulnerabilities of cancers. He also directs the multidisciplinary Sarcoma and GIST Center at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, focused on developing personalized cancer therapeutics for these mesenchymal cancers. Outside of the laboratory, Dr. Demetri has been instrumental in raising awareness of issues relating to the discovery and development of novel anticancer therapies, serving as a member of the clinical trials working group of the Biden-led National Cancer Moonshot Initiative, as well as a member of the Board of Directors for the American Association for Cancer Research.
Dr. Demetri also developed and teaches an innovative Freshman Seminar at Harvard College to introduce undergraduates to the social, ethical, scientific and humanistic aspects of cancer.
Dr. Demetri received his undergraduate degree in Biochemistry from Harvard College and medical degree from Stanford University School of Medicine, after which he completed his internal medicine residency and chief residency at the University of Washington Hospitals in Seattle. He completed a fellowship in Medical Oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School. He has served as a member of the IRB for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute since 1994.