Much about a carcinoid cancer cell remains a mystery. For that reason, NETRF funds research to understand how and why a neuroendocrine cancer cell comes to be. Two Harvard researchers are teaming up to explore important longstanding mysteries. 2017 NETRF Accelerator Award grantees, Qiao (Joe) Zhou, PhD, Harvard University, and Ramesh Shivdasani, MD, PhD, Harvard Medical School, are searching for fundamental answers about the origin of intestinal neuroendocrine cells and carcinoid tumors.The researchers will capitalize on exciting advances in stem cell biology, nuclear profiling, and genome editing to understand the differences between human carcinoid tumor cells and their normal counterparts, in an effort to find the irregularities that distinguish cancer cells from healthy ones. Drs. Zhou and Shivdasani also aim to identify the likely precursor cells (the cell of origin) that give rise to intestinal NETs in laboratory models.By understanding when and how things go wrong, the Accelerator Grant team hopes to identify the specific proteins or pathways that can be targeted with new or existing drugs. Such therapies will turn on or off cellular functions or communication in hopes of interrupting the production, survival, and proliferation of intestinal cancer cells.