About Us

Learn more about the Society

The Society for Functional Precision Medicine arose out of recognition of the unmet need in matching cancer patients to the therapies best for them. We think there is tremendous utility in exposing patient tumor cells directly to the drugs that could be used to treat them in order to do this matching. We propose to bring cutting edge tools of tissue culture and analysis to bear on this strategy to create practical solutions. Our overriding mission is to accelerate the day when functional assays are a routine tool in the care of the cancer patients. The SFPM welcomes the input and participation of any who are interested, including scientists and clinicians, patient advocates and regulators, academia as well as pharma and biotech.

Learn more about the SFPM in this recent podcast.


Anthony Letai, MD, PhD - President
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School

Anthony Letai received his MD and PhD at the University of Chicago. His PhD was done under the supervision of Elaine Fuchs. Dr. Letai then completed clinical training in Internal Medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston. Following this, he completed fellowship in Hematology and Oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. He was introduced to apoptosis and BCL-2 family proteins as a post-doctoral researcher in the laboratory of the late Stanley Korsmeyer.

Chris Kemp, PhD - Vice President
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

Christopher Kemp, PhD is a Full Professor in the Division of Human Biology at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and a Member of the Brotman Baty Institute for Precision Medicine. Dr. Kemp received a BA in Biology from Case Western Reserve University, an MS in Toxicology from Oregon State University and PhD in Experimental Oncology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He did postdoctoral research with Allan Balmain at the Beatson Institute for Cancer Research in Glasgow. He has been at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center for over 26 years where he has studied the genetics and biology and genetics of tumor progression. He is currently using functional genomic approaches to identify new cancer drug targets using patient derived tumor models. He is cofounder of Epigenomics, which focuses on early cancer detection, Cure First, a nonprofit dedicated to accelerating the discovery of safer and more effective treatments for cancer, SEngine Precision Medicine, a startup company that harnesses 3D organoid technology and AI for more effective treatment options and accelerated drug development, and The Society for Functional Precision Medicine, a nonprofit whose mission is to improve patient care and outcomes by facilitating implementation of functional assays into clinical care.

Keith Ligon, MD, PhD - Secretary
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School

Dr. Keith L Ligon, MD, PhD is an Associate Professor of Pathology at Harvard Medical School and Director of the DFCI Center for Patient Derived Models. His laboratory focuses on development of novel functional diagnostic assays to determine drug response in cancer cells and incorporation of these assays into human clinical trials and pathology practice to advance personalized medicine for patients. He has expertise in patient derived xenografts, cell lines, and acute cell models research. He has specific scientific and clinical expertise in neurooncology and is a Board Certified Neuropatholgoist and Chief of Neuropathology at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. He is a Co-Founder and Scientific Advisor to Travera which is working to develop single cell mass biomarkers as functional diagnostics in cancer.

Jeff Tyner, PhD - Treasurer
Oregon Health Sciences University

Jeffrey Tyner was born in West Lafayette, Indiana. He attended undergraduate school at Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa, and graduate school at Washington University in St. Louis. His graduate work, focusing on asthma and respiratory viral infections, was conducted under the mentorship of Dr. Michael Holtzman. For his post-doctoral fellowship, Jeff joined Dr. Brian Druker’s laboratory at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) where he studied molecular mechanisms of leukemogenesis. He is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Cell & Developmental Biology at OHSU. Jeff’s research is focused towards: 1) identification of cancer-causing gene targets in cancer patients and 2) identification of patient-tailored, gene-targeted therapies. To accomplish these objectives, Jeff has spent the past decade developing and implementing a functional screening approach whereby primary cells from hem malignancy patients can be tested ex vivo for sensitivity to a library of small-molecule inhibitors. This assay has now been cumulatively applied to over 2,000 patient specimens, and this large data set has been leveraged to inform numerous findings that offer new diagnostic and therapeutic options for hem malignancy patients.

Sara Cherry, PhD - Board Member
University of Pennsylvania

Sara Cherry is a Professor in the Department of Microbiology at the University of Pennsylvania, Scientific Director of the High-throughput Screening Core and Director of the Chemogenomic Discovery Program in the School of Medicine. She obtained her BS with Dr. Peter Schultz at Berkeley, her PhD with Dr. David Baltimore and her postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. Norbert Perrimon where she developed high-throughput RNAi screening. She started her laboratory at Penn in 2006 where she has applied RNAi technology and other cell-based screening approaches to discover mechanisms by which diverse viral pathogens hijack cellular machinery while evading defenses. While her laboratory continues to study globally important emerging pathogens, she has expanded her interests to cancer. Through the Precision Medicine Program in Chemogenomic Discovery she has developed a new pipeline to directly screen patient tumor cells for responsiveness to available and experimental treatments, which will be used to direct new therapeutic approaches. Her initial work in Acute Myelogenous Leukemia is moving into clinical trials, and this discovery platform is expanding to additional leukemias and cancers.

Joan Montero, PhD - Board Member
Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia [IBEC]

Joan Montero received his PhD at the University of Barcelona, under the supervision of Prof. Fernández-Checa and Dr. Anna Colell. After graduating, he joined Prof. Letai laboratory as a post-doctoral researcher to specialize in cell death and precision cancer medicine, and he pioneered a novel functional assay to predict anti-cancer therapy response in patients called dynamic BH3 profiling (Montero et al., Cell 2015). At present, he is an independent Ramon y Cajal researcher at the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC) where he is developing new functional tools and personalized therapies, with a special focus on pediatric cancer, to find better treatments for patients.

Alice Soragni, PhD - Board Member
University of California, Los Angeles

Alice Soragni, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, a member of the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center and of the UCLA Molecular Biology Institute. She has a Master of Science cum Laude from the University of Bologna, Italy and a PhD from the ETH of Zuerich, Switzerland. Her laboratory couples basic research into mechanisms of disease to the development of novel therapeutic strategies. Her expertise lies in the development of tumor organoid models to investigate the biology of rare tumors and perform screenings for functional precision medicine applications.