Harper Highlights: Director’s Message


Welcome to the inaugural edition of Harper Highlights, a quarterly e-letter that will keep you informed and up-to-date regarding ongoing cancer research and related events at Harper Cancer Research Institute, on campus and in our community.

If you’ve never heard of us, Harper Cancer Research Institute was founded in 2011 when Mr. Mike Harper made a generous gift to the University of Notre Dame in honor of his late wife Josie who died from cancer.  When the state of Indiana matched his gift dollar-for-dollar, the initial funding was established for a collaborative research institute operated by the University of Notre Dame and Indiana University School of Medicine-South Bend (IUSM-SB).

Today, Harper Cancer Research Institute honors Mike Harper’s initial gift by bringing a multidisciplinary approach to cancer research in a setting that nurtures innovative developments at a rapid pace.  While the day-to-day work is highly complex, the mission itself is simple. Our investigators conduct “innovative and integrative research confronting the complex challenges of cancer”. 

Cancer is a highly complex family of diseases characterized by a disruption of biochemical processes that subsequently alters normal function at the cell, tissue and organ levels.  Due to this inherent systemic complexity, breakthrough-level discoveries that impact both cancer diagnosis and cancer treatment require a novel perspective conceived at the interface of chemistry, engineering, mathematics, biology, physics, psychology and medicine.



Harper Directors Circle graphic

At Harper Cancer Research Institute, our program structure (see Figure) is specifically designed to foster such multi-disciplinary cancer research by promoting interactions among research groups with distinct expertise, and by training young scientists to work across scientific fields. Ideally, clinical partnerships will provide key translational insight and thereby strengthen the mission of discovery.


Through this quarterly e-letter, we will tell you about the amazingly innovative projects that we have witnessed being developed at the Institute through the seemingly improbable pairing of engineers, chemists, physicists, mathematicians and cancer biologists who have addressed cancer research in exciting new ways. The cozy size of our campus, the collaborative spirit that pervades the Universities and the mission of our scientists to be a force for good in cancer research, makes this all possible.


Simply stated, at Harper Cancer Research Institute, we’re changing the way we fight cancer.  And we look forward to sharing new discoveries with you often.