Douglas Hanahan, PhD

Douglas Hanahan, PhD, is a Distinguished Scholar of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research (Zurich/New York), working in its Lausanne Branch, and an Emeritus Professor of Molecular Oncology in and former Director of the Swiss Institute for Experimental Cancer Research (ISREC) within the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL). Dr. Hanahan was a founding co-Director of the Swiss Cancer Center Leman (SCCL), a multi-institutional partnership that is the first ‘comprehensive/integrated’ cancer center in Switzerland. He incentivized the conceptual design and subsequently shepherded the programmatic planning for the new Agora Translational Cancer Research Center, which is the flagship of the SCCL.

Dr. Hanahan is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, a member of the US National Academies of Science and of Medicine, and a member of the European Molecular Biology Organization. He received an honorary degree from the University of Dundee (Scotland). In 2014, Dr. Hanahan was elected as a Fellow of the Academy of the American Association for Cancer Research and was honored with its Lifetime Achievement award. In 2023 he was elected a Foreign Member of the Royal Society of London, UK. He currently directs a translational cancer research laboratory based in the Agora Translational Cancer Research Center under the auspices of the Lausanne Branch of the Ludwig Institute. Dr. Hanahan has served during the past four decades on a series of advisory boards in academia and biopharma. Notably, Dr. Hanahan has been a member of the Pfizer Oncology SAB since 2008. He is a co-founder and SAB member of Opna Bio, which is developing small molecule cancer drugs, including for the RNA binding protein FMRP, which his lab discovered to be a master regulator of immunosuppressive tumor microenvironments.

Dr. Hanahan received a bachelor’s degree in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1976, and a Ph.D. in biophysics from Harvard University in 1983, where he was awarded a prestigious fellowship by the Harvard Society of Fellows. He worked for a decade at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York first as a Harvard graduate student and then as a faculty member. Subsequently he spent twenty-one years at the University of California San Francisco before moving to EPFL in 2009. As a graduate student Dr. Hanahan developed methodology that markedly facilitated the molecular cloning of genes in E. coli, which continues to be a cornerstone methodology in life sciences.