Dr. Frank Slack PhD

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

Frank Slack, Ph.D. is Director of the Institute for RNA Medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and a Professor of Pathology at Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Slack received his B.Sc. from the University of Cape Town in South Africa, before completing his Ph.D. in molecular biology at Tufts University School of Medicine. He started work on microRNAs as a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Gary Ruvkun’s laboratory at Harvard Medical School, where he co-discovered the second known microRNA, let-7, and the first human microRNA. He subsequently moved to the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology at Yale University, where he was a program leader in the Yale Cancer Center and the Director of the Yale Center for RNA Science and Medicine. There he discovered that microRNAs regulate key human oncogenes and have the potential to act as therapeutics. He also demonstrated the first role for a microRNA in the aging process. In 2014, he became Director of the Institute for RNA Medicine and a Professor of Pathology at BIDMC.

Dr. Slack studies the roles and uses of microRNAs and their targets in development, disease and aging. He has been at the forefront of the small RNA revolution. He was on the team that discovered the first human microRNA, let-7, and subsequently showed that it is a tumor suppressor that controls key cancer genes, such as RAS, MYC and LIN28. His lab is developing let-7 and a second microRNA, miR-34, as novel cancer therapeutics with miR-34 already in Phase I clinical trials. They also proved that microRNAs act as key oncogenes and developed strategies to target these oncomiRs for cancer therapy. Their research also extends to discovery of additional novel small RNAs in development, cancer, aging and diabetes as well as identifying novel SNPs in the non-coding portions of the genome with an eye to identifying the next generation of actionable targets in cancer.

Dr. Slack was an Ellison Medical Foundation Senior Scholar and received the 2014 Heath Memorial Award from MD Anderson Cancer Center.