About Our Research

Christopher Lima & Derek Tan Molecular biologist Christopher Lima and chemist Derek Tan are collaborating to learn more about fundamental processes that occur within cells.

Along with patient care and education, research is a key component of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s mission. We have investigators who specialize in every aspect of cancer research, from basic studies of cells’ inner workings to late-stage clinical trials of new drugs. Although our primary goal is to discover as much as we can about the underpinnings of cancer and apply this knowledge toward improvements in cancer care, many discoveries made here have implications for other conditions affecting human health.


Two Memorial Sloan Kettering researchers, including Sloan Kettering Institute Director Joan Massagué, share their perspective on the next wave of cancer science.


Our research staff includes scientists and physician-scientists who are recognized around the world as leaders in their fields. Many of our investigators head large, international clinical trials; serve on the editorial boards of top medical and scientific journals; have been honored with membership in the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, and other prestigious organizations; and have received major awards.

Translational research is an important focus at Memorial Sloan Kettering. We are constantly applying discoveries made at the laboratory bench toward improvements in patient care. We also bring what we learn from patients back to the laboratory to enhance our understanding of basic cancer biology. This bench-to-bedside approach allows us to move laboratory discoveries swiftly into the patient-care setting, while helping researchers refine therapies and techniques based on clinical observations.

Our research falls into four main categories:

Sloan Kettering Institute

One of the world’s most dynamic biomedical research institutions, the Sloan Kettering Institute (SKI) includes programs in cancer biology and genetics, cell biology, computational biology, developmental biology, immunology, molecular biology, molecular pharmacology and chemistry, and structural biology. Our scientists are advancing the understanding of the fundamental principles of life and disease, and making important strides in the development of new therapies and technologies.

Clinical Research

Memorial Sloan Kettering houses one of the largest cancer-specific clinical research programs in the world. Working together across disciplines and departments, our clinical investigators have developed new therapy regimens and have helped establish standard treatment protocols for each type and stage of cancer. Today, Memorial Sloan Kettering physicians lead more than 900 clinical trials for pediatric and adult cancers.

Memorial Hospital Research

Within Memorial Hospital, many scientists lead research laboratories, including some physician-scientists who apply insights from the clinic to their laboratory work. Our investigators focus on basic laboratory research, translational research that bridges discoveries made in the laboratory and those made in the clinic, studies about factors that affect cancer incidence, and mathematical and computational research directed at analyzing and interpreting biomedical data.

Collaborative Research Centers

Our collaborative centers bring together investigators from different disciplines to focus on particular areas of biomedical study such as brain tumor research, experimental therapeutics, and stem cell research. Several centers facilitate close collaboration between laboratory scientists and clinicians — a key component of translational research.

Memorial Sloan Kettering is built on a strong infrastructure that supports research. This foundation includes modern buildings designed for an interactive and efficient working environment; state-of-the-art core facilities that provide the highest quality scientific technology; an Office of Technology Development that manages the inventions of our investigators and facilitates collaboration with outside institutions; and computing, technology management, and other resources that allow our investigators to focus on their primary research.

In addition, our training programs prepare the next generation of physicians, scientists, and other healthcare professionals for leadership roles in the life sciences and medicine, especially as related to cancer. Graduate education and postdoctoral training are integral to the way we conduct our research and ensure that the next generation of scientists is able to carry on our legacy of research excellence, both at Memorial Sloan Kettering and beyond.