Jackson Laboratory cancer researcher Kevin Mills, Ph.D., promoted to associate professor

Date: June 8, 2011
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Bar Harbor, Maine—Kevin Mills, Ph.D., a Jackson Laboratory cancer researcher who studies fundamental processes relating to the stability of the genome, has been promoted to associate professor.

Mills’ research is focused on understanding the mechanisms that manage genome instability, and determining how failure of these mechanisms leads to diseases, including cancer or immunodeficiency. He is pioneering a new concept, "genetic chemotherapy," to develop precisely targeted cancer treatments that selectively induce cancer cell self-destruction.

In August Mills and his laboratory published a paper in Nature Immunology revealing new details about genome recombination in immune system cells, research that could open a new understanding of the origins of immune system diseases and cancer.

With a seed grant from the Maine Technology Institute matched by Jackson Laboratory funds, Mills and his laboratory are developing a system to discover potential new drugs for treating leukemia, lymphoma and multiple myeloma. They are developing a rapid screening system to enable the high-throughput testing of thousands of compounds. In their first round of screening, expected to be complete later this year, they will test more than 1,000 compounds.

In December 2009, Mills and a Jackson colleague, Associate Professor Joel Graber, reported their discovery of telltale variations in mRNA processing—the cell's protein-building function—that correspond to cancer. The team showed that they could distinguish among similar tumor subtypes with at least 74 percent accuracy; the current standard in molecular diagnostics is about 10 percent.

In June the Maine Cancer Foundation made grants to Mills and two other Jackson Laboratory cancer researchers. The Foundation also awarded its annual Carroll Award, which acknowledges "extraordinary efforts to advance the path to a cancer-free future," to The Jackson Laboratory's cancer researchers.

Mills joined The Jackson Laboratory research staff in 2005, following a five-year postdoctoral fellowship at Children's Hospital (Boston) and Harvard Medical School. Mills received his B.A. in molecular biology, with a minor in biochemistry, from the University of Colorado, Boulder in 1994, completing his Ph.D. in biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1999.

The Jackson Laboratory, founded as a cancer research center in 1929, is a nonprofit biomedical research institution and National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center based in Bar Harbor, Maine. Its mission is to discover the genetic basis for preventing, treating and curing human diseases, and to enable research and education for the global biomedical community.

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Dr. Kevin Mills explains the link between aging and cancer.  Watch video (3:25)

Download a headshot of Dr. Mills (300dpi jpg)


Joyce Peterson, 207-288-6058, The Jackson Laboratory

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