The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Neil Forbes

Associate Professor

In our research we use experimental and computational methods to understand the cellular mechanisms that give rise to drug resistance in tumors and we use engineering methods to design therapeutic strategies to overcome resistance in tumors.

Current Research
To date the major advances of our group have been 1) determination of the mechanisms that control the localization of therapeutic bacteria in tumors; 2) development of therapeutic bacteria that secrete an anti-cancer protein and dramatically increase survival in mice; 3) quantification of the effects of spatial heterogeneity on tumor metabolism, cell survival, and cell cycle progression; 4) development of computation tools to analyze the interactions of therapeutics with tumors; and 5) demonstration that the properties of nanoparticles can be tuned to enhance  tumor targeting.

Learn more at

Academic Background

  • BS Case Western Reserve University, 1994
  • PhD University of California at Berkeley, 2000
Toley BJ, Forbes NS. 2012. Motility is critical for effective distribution and accumulation of bacteria in tumor tissue. Integr. Biol. 4:165-76
Toley BJ, Park J, Kim BJ, Venkatasubramanian R, Maharbiz MM, Forbes NS. 2012. Micrometer-scale oxygen delivery rearranges cells and prevents necrosis in tumor tissue in vitro. Biotechnol Prog. 28:515-25.
Toley BJ, Ganz DE, Walsh CL, Forbes NS. 2011. Microfluidic device for recreating a tumor microenvironment in vitro. J Vis Exp. DOI: 10.3791/2425.
Ganai S, Arenas RB, Sauer JP†, Bentley B, Forbes NS. 2011. In tumors Salmonella migrate away from vasculature toward the transition zone and induce apoptosis. Cancer Gene Ther. 18:457-66
Forbes NS. 2010. Engineering the perfect (bacterial) cancer therapy. Nature Reviews Cancer. 10:785–794
Venkatasubramanian R, Arenas RB, Henson MA, Forbes NS. 2010. Mechanistic modeling of dynamic MRI data predicts that tumor heterogeneity decreases therapeutic response. Br J Cancer. 103:486-97
Contact Info

Chemical Engineering
101 Goessmann Lab
686 North Pleasant Street
Amherst, MA 01003

(413) 577-0132