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Spyros Artavanis-Tsakonas

Spyros Artavanis-Tsakonas
Professor Emeritus of Cell Biology
Professeur au Collège de France

Spyros Artavanis-Tsakonas, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of Cell Biology but continues to maintain a research group. He received his doctoral degree at Cambridge University, England and pursued postdoctoral research at the University of Basel, Switzerland, and Stanford University. He has been a faculty member at Harvard Medical School's Cell Biology department since 1998, and was Chief Scientific Officer at Biogen from 2012 until 2016.

Using molecular and genetic approaches, the Artavanis-Tsakonas lab is examining how various signals are integrated in undifferentiated cells in order to dictate cell fates and ultimately influence morphogenesis. Our main experimental system is Drosophila, but we are interested in exploiting this system as a tool to explore human biology and understand the underlying mechanisms of pathologies such as cancer.

Joan Brugge

Joan Brugge
Louise Foote Pfeiffer Professor of Cell Biology
Co-Director of the Ludwig Center at Harvard

Joan Brugge, Ph.D., received her Ph.D. in virology from Baylor College of Medicine, and was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Colorado Medical Center. After professorships at SUNY, Stony Brook and the University of Pennsylvania, where she was an HHMI investigator, she became the Scientific Director and Senior VP at ARIAD Pharmaceuticals. She returned to academia as Professor of Cell Biology at HMS in 1997, and was Chair of the department from 2004-2014. She became Co-Director of the Ludwig Center at Harvard in 2014. She currently sits on the Scientific Advisory Board of the Allen Institute of Cell Sciences.

The Brugge laboratory is investigating the cellular processes and pathways that are involved in normal morphogenesis of epithelial tissues as well as those involved in the initiation and progression of epithelial tumors.

Edward Chouchani

Assistant Professor of Cancer Biology (DFCI)
Assistant Professor of Cell Biology

Edward Chouchani, Ph.D., joined the faculty of Harvard Medical School as an Assistant Professor of Cell Biology in 2017. He received his Ph.D. in Biological Sciences at the University of Cambridge and MRC Mitochondrial Biology Unit. He then performed postdoctoral research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School.

Research in the Chouchani Lab focuses on deciphering molecular mechanisms that drive metabolic disease, and using this information to develop targeted therapeutic strategies.  Mitochondria are critical hubs for metabolic signaling, and their dysfunction is key in the pathology of metabolic disease.  The Chouchani Lab combines mass spectrometry and targeted pharmacological approaches in vivo to understand how mitochondrial redox metabolism controls physiology in clinically informative mouse models of obesity and diabetes.

Nika Danial

Associate Professor of Cancer Biology (DFCI)
Associate Professor of Medicine (HMS)
Affiliate member of Cell Biology

Nika Danial, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Cancer Biology (DFCI) and Medicine (HMS), and an affiliate member of the Cell Biology Department. She received an undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences from Stanford University, and a Ph.D. in Molecular, Cellular and Biophysical Studies from Columbia University. Her postdoctoral studies in the laboratory of Stanley J. Korsmeyer at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute focused on the role of BCL-2 family proteins in mitochondrial apoptosis, where she discovered a molecular link between cell survival/death regulatory pathways and metabolism. She joined the faculty of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School in 2005.

The Danial Labfocuses on molecular mechanisms and biologic consequences of cellular fuel choices. Different cell states have distinct anabolic and catabolic needs that are fulfilled by processing specific metabolic substrates. As such, cells’ fuel choice can influence transitions in and out of quiescence, resistance/sensitivity to oxidative stress, metabolic adaptations to nutrient changes, and cell identity, including epigenetic regulation. Understanding how these fuel preferences are controlled and defining their specific metabolic outputs will provide a molecular handle on modulating cell behavior in normal physiology and in pathologic conditions. The Danial lab uses multi-disciplinary in vitroand in vivoapproaches that draw on mitochondrial metabolism, biochemistry, chemical biology, proteomics, metabolomics and genetically engineered mouse models to identify molecular determinants of cellular fuel choices and their effects on cell fate and function. This research program has led to discoveries linking fuel utilization pathways to cellular stress outcomes in diseases such as cancer, diabetes and seizure disorders.

Robert V. Farese, Jr.

Bob Farese
Chair & Professor of Molecular Metabolism (Harvard T.H. Chan SPH)
Professor of Cell Biology

Robert Farese, Jr., M.D., is Chair and Professor of the Department of Genetics and Complex Diseases at the Harvard Chan School of Public Health, and Professor of Cell Biology at Harvard Medical School, where he runs a laboratory jointly since 2014 with Dr. Tobias Walther. Dr. Farese obtained his M.D. from Vanderbilt University, did medical training at the University of Colorado, and his postdoctoral research training at UCSF and the Gladstone Institutes. Dr. Farese was an investigator at Gladstone/UCSF from 1994-2014, where his laboratory focused on lipid and energy metabolism, in particular elucidating the biochemical and cell biological pathways of neutral lipid and triglyceride synthesis and storage. Since 2007, Dr. Farese also works in the field of neurodegenerative diseases, with an emphasis on investigating lipid metabolism in the central nervous system. He serves on the board of the Bluefield Project to Cure FTD.

The Farese & Walther Lab investigates cellular lipid and energy metabolism, in particular the mechanisms and physiology of neutral lipid synthesis and storage in lipid droplets. More broadly the lab studies the mechanisms how cells regulate the abundance of lipids, how they store lipids to buffer fluctuation in their availability, and how these processes function in membrane biology and cell physiology.

Daniel Finley

Professor of Cell Biology

Dan Finley, Ph.D., received his undergraduate degree from Harvard University in biochemistry, and his graduate degree from MIT, with a focus on molecular biology. He stayed at MIT for his postdoctoral training before joining the Department of Cell Biology at HMS in 1988. He also currently sits on the Scientific Advisory Boards of Proteostasis and X-Chem Pharmaceuticals, and is a consultant for Genentech.

The Finley lab is interested in the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway and related regulatory systems. Specific topics include the mechanism of the proteasome, ubiquitin-like proteins, antizyme, and nonproteolytic functions of ubiquitination.

John Flanagan

Professor of Cell Biology

John Flanagan, Ph.D., did his undergraduate training at the University of Oxford in biochemistry and his graduate training at the University of Cambridge, UK in molecular biology. His postdoctoral training was at Harvard Medical School in the Genetics department, focused on cell-cell signaling, after which he joined the Department of Cell Biology as a faculty member.

The Flanagan lab studies how cell-cell signaling molecules set up spatial pattern, particularly in the development and regeneration of connections in the nervous system.

Alfred Goldberg

Professor of Cell Biology

Fred Goldberg, Ph.D., did both undergraduate and graduate work at Harvard, and was appointed to a faculty position in the Department of Physiology, and later, in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Physiology, which were precursors to today's Department of Cell Biology. He has received many honors for his pioneering work, including the discoveries of the uniquitin-protesome pathway and ATP-dependent proteases. His research resulted in the development of proteosome inhibitors, including bortezomib/Velcade, used worldwide as the primary treatment for multiple myeloma.

The Goldberg laboratory is presently studying the regulation and mechanisms of protein breakdown in animal and bacterial cells.

Steven Gygi

Professor of Cell Biology

Steven Gygi, Ph.D., received his Ph.D. from the University of Utah in Pharmacology and Toxicology performing small molecule mass spectrometry.  He went on to pursue postdoctoral work with Ruedi Aebersold at the University of Washington in 1996.  A revolution in biological mass spectrometry was occurring which allowed for the measurement of protein expression levels and a new field, Proteomics, was born.  In 2000, Dr. Gygi moved to Harvard Medical School and joined the Department of Cell Biology.  Currently, he is the faculty director of two MS core facilities (Taplin Biological MS Facility, and the Thermo Fisher Center for Multiplexed Proteomics—TCMP@HMS).

Research in the Gygi lab centers around developing and applying new technologies in the field of mass spectrometry-based proteomics.  These include the systematic and proteome-wide measurements of many protein properties including their expression levels, modification states, structure, localization, function, and interactions.  For example, the Gygi lab, together with the Harper lab at HMS, is creating a genome-scale map of the protein-protein interaction landscape in cells (termed BioPlex).  In addition, sample multiplexing techniques like Tandem Mass Tags (TMT) are being improved to allow up to 16 proteomics samples to be analyzed simultaneously using high resolution mass spectrometry.

Marcia Haigis

Professor of Cell Biology

Marcia C. Haigis, Ph.D. obtained her Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin in 2002 and performed postdoctoral studies at MIT studying mitochondrial metabolism. In 2006, Dr. Haigis joined the faculty of Harvard Medical School, where she is currently a Professor in the Department of Cell Biology. Dr. Haigis is an active member of the Paul F. Glenn Center for the Biology of Aging, a member of the Ludwig Center at Harvard Medical School, and was recently selected for the National Academy of Medicine Emerging Leaders in Health and Medicine Program.

The Haigis Lab aims to: 1) identify molecular mechanisms by which mitochondria respond to cellular stress and 2) elucidate how these cellular mechanisms contribute to aging and age-related diseases, such as cancer. The Haigis lab has made key contributions to our understanding of metabolic reprogramming in cancer, including identifying nodes of metabolic vulnerability in the control of fat oxidation in leukemia and metabolic recycling of ammonia to generate amino acids important for tumor growth.

Wade Harper

Chair & Professor of Cell Biology
Bert and Natalie Vallee Professor of Molecular Pathology

Wade Harper, Ph.D., is the B and N Vallee Professor of Molecular Pathology, a Professor of Cell Biology, and the Chair of Cell Biology in the Blavatnik Institute at Harvard Medical School. He received his Ph.D. in Chemistry from Georgia Institute of Technology, prior to performing post-doctoral work in protein biochemistry of growth factors at Harvard Medical School. He joined the faculty in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Baylor College of Medicine in 1988 and subsequently moved to the Department of Pathology at Harvard Medical School (in 2003) and to the Department of Cell Biology in 2011.

The Harper Lab studies mechanisms underlying cellular homeostasis and signaling, with a focus on the ubiquitin system and the autophagy-lysosome system. The interest in the ubiquitin-proteasome system in the Harper Lab initially emerged through studies to understand how cell cycle regulators (cyclins and CDK inhibitors) are degraded to control cell cycle transitions, resulting in the discovery of cullin-RING ubiquitin ligases, and their roles in phosphorylation-dependent protein degradation. The Harper Lab currently uses quantitative proteomics, imaging, and biochemical approaches to elucidate underlying biochemical mechanisms controlling protein turnover, and applies these approaches to examine regulatory pathways relevant to various neurodegenerative disease, including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. A major focus currently is the PARKIN ubiquitin ligase, which controls turnover of damaged mitochondria via the autophagy pathway and is mutated in Parkinson’s Disease. The Harper Lab, together with the Gygi Lab at HMS, is also using proteomics to develop a large-scale human protein interaction network including the majority of proteins encoded by the human genome.

Randall King

Harry C. McKenzie Professor of Cell Biology

Randy King, M.D., Ph.D. was appointed to the faculty in 2000, after three years as the first Institute Fellow of the Institute of Chemistry of Cell Biology at Harvard. He received his undergraduate degree from Carleton College, followed by a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from UCSF, where he co-discovered the Anaphase-Promoting complex/Cyclosome (APC), and M.D. from Harvard Medical School. He was named the Harry C. McKenzie Professor of Cell Biology in 2013 and has received numerous awards in recognition of his contributions to medical education.

The King lab integrates chemical and cell biological approaches to study cell division and chromosome segregation.

Tomas Kirchhausen

Tomas Kirchhausen
Springer Family Chair (BCH)
Senior Investigator, Program in Cellular and Molecular Medicine (BCH)
Professor of Cell Biology
Professor of Pediatrics

The Kirchhausen Lab focuses on understanding processes that mediate and regulate cellular membrane remodeling, the biogenesis of organelles, and the ways by which viruses, biologicals and oligonucleotides are delivered to the cell interior. 

By direct observation of molecular events obtained using Lattice Light Sheet Microscopy and Lattice Light Sheet Microscopy optimized with Adaptive Optics (AO-LLSM), frontier optical-imaging modalities with high temporal resolution and spatial precision, we aim to bridge the gap between molecules and cells, either as independent entities in culture, as components of organoids, or as constituents of living tissues. The richness and magnitude of the big-data obtained over periods ranging from seconds to hours create new challenges for obtaining quantitative representations of the observed dynamics and for deriving accurate and comprehensive models for the underlying developmental mechanisms. With these type of dynamic studies we expect to integrate molecular snapshots obtained at molecular and atomic resolution using cryoEM with live-cell processes, in an effort to generate ‘molecular movies' allowing us to obtain frameworks for analyzing some of the molecular contacts and switches that participate in the regulation, availability, and intracellular traffic of the many molecules involved in signal transduction, immune responsiveness, lipid homeostasis, cell-cell recognition and organelle biogenesis. Such biological phenomena have importance for our understanding of many diseases including cancer, viral infection and pathogen invasion, Alzheimer's, as well as other neurological diseases.

Maofu Liao

Maofu Liao
Associate Professor of Cell Biology

Maofu Liao, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Cell Biology at Harvard Medical School. He received his Ph.D. from Albert Einstein College of Medicine in 2006, performed postdoctoral research at University of California, San Francisco, and joined the faculty in the Department of Cell Biology of Harvard Medical School in 2014. 

Research in the Liao Lab focuses on understanding the structure and function of membrane proteins and DNA/RNA-protein complexes. The major techniques include single-particle cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) and a variety of biochemical assays. The Liao lab is particularly interested to reveal the mechanism of how proteins sense, move and convert specific lipid molecules. This is achieved by obtaining high-resolution structures of lipid-interacting proteins, and by studying the conformational dynamics of membrane proteins in lipid bilayer environment.

Stephen Liberles

Professor of Cell Biology
Member: Harvard Program in Neuroscience
HHMI Investigator

Stephen Liberles, Ph.D. is a Professor and HHMI Investigator in the Cell Biology Department at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Liberles received an undergraduate degree in Chemistry from Harvard in 1994, and a Ph.D. in Chemistry and Chemical Biology from Harvard in 1999, working in the lab of Stuart Schreiber. He then performed post-doctoral work in the lab of Linda Buck, first at Harvard Medical School and then at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.

The Liberles Lab focuses on the molecular neuroscience of sensory systems, including olfaction, pheromone sensing, taste, and internal organ senses of the vagus nerve. Some discoveries from his lab include characterizing non-classical families of olfactory receptors, odors and pheromones that stimulate innate behaviors, vagus nerve cell types that selectively control autonomic physiology, and mechanisms underlying sensation within internal organs, including airway stretch and changes in aortic blood pressure.

Danesh Moazed

Professor of Cell Biology
HHMI Investigator

Danesh Moazed, Ph.D., is a Professor and HHMI Investigator in the Department of Cell Biology at Harvard Medical School.  He is a member of the Harvard Biophysics Program and the Harvard Initiative for RNA Medicine (HIRM). He received his undergraduate and Ph.D. degrees from the University of California in Santa Cruz and performed postdoctoral studies at the University of California in San Francisco.

The Moazed lab studies how genes are silenced and how silencing is epigenetically inherited across generations.  The lab’s interests revolve around diverse pathways of heterochromatin-mediated gene silencing in yeast and mammalian cells.  Work in budding yeast focuses on the structure and function of a diverged and relatively simple form of heterochromatin, which requires only three Silent information regulator (“Sir”) proteins that form a histone deacetylase and chromatin-binding complex.  Work in fission yeast focuses on a conserved example of heterochromatin that requires the nuclear RNA interference (RNAi) machinery, other RNA processing pathways, Heterochromatin protein 1 (HP1) homologs, and histone-modifying enzymes.  In mammalian cells, the work is focused on HP1-mediated and other heterochromatin formation pathways.  The lab uses approaches ranging from genetics and genomics, biochemical purification and reconstitution, and structural biology for their studies.  Ultimately, the lab seeks to understand the conserved fundamental principles that govern the assembly, function, and epigenetic propagation of heterochromatin.

David Pellman

Margaret M. Dyson Professor of Pediatric Oncology (DFCI)
Professor of Cell Biology
HHMI Investigator

David Pellman, M.D. is the Margaret M. Dyson Professor of Pediatric Oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, a Professor of Cell Biology at Harvard Medical School, an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and the Associate Director for Basic Science at the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center.  He received his undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Chicago.  During medical school, he did research at the Rockefeller University.  His postdoctoral fellowship was at the Whitehead Institute/Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The Pellman Lab works on the mechanism of cell division and how certain cell division errors drive rapid genome evolution.  The normal processes studied in the laboratory have included spindle positioning and asymmetric cell division, the mechanism of spindle assembly and cytokinesis, and the mechanism of nuclear envelope assembly and how it is coordinated with chromosome segregation.  The mutational processes studied in David’s group are particularly important for cancer, but have relevance for genome evolution in other contexts.  Current projects include: the mechanism of a newly discovered mutational process called “chromothripsis”, how the architecture and integrity of the nuclear envelope impacts genome maintenance, and the role of cytoplasmic chromatin in triggering innate immune proinflammatory signaling. The lab uses a variety of approaches which include, molecular genetics, biochemistry, and imaging.  Currently there is a heavy emphasis on using a combination of live-cell imaging and single-cell genome sequencing developed in the lab (“Look-Seq”) to relate the consequences of cell division errors to genome alterations. 

Pere Puigserver

Professor of Cancer Biology (DFCI)
Professor of Cell Biology

Pere Puigserver, Ph.D. is Professor of Cell Biology at Harvard Medical School and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. He received his PhD in Biochemistry from UIB (Spain) that included research at Stockholm University, following postdoctoral work at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. He joined the faculty of Cell Biology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 2002 and subsequently returned in 2006 to the Department of Cell Biology (Harvard Medical School) and Cancer Biology (Dana-Farber Cancer Institute).

The Puigserver Lab focuses on the regulatory molecular mechanisms of core metabolic processes that maintain cell homeostasis and phenotypes. The research program of the Puigserver Lab includes main areas such as 1) mitochondrial biology, 2) intermediary metabolism and, 3) cancer metabolism and energetics. In mitochondrial biology, particular interests are in the regulatory mechanisms that control mitochondrial energetics and biogenesis, with implications in a variety of diseases including metabolic and mitochondrial diseases. In intermediary metabolism, a major focus is in liver and adipose cells and their regulatory mechanisms that control nutrient-derived metabolic and energetic activities. In cancer metabolism and energetics, the Puigserver Lab addresses how these processes drive core cancer biology programs such as cell growth, survival and resistance mechanisms.  The Puigserver Lab uses a multidisciplinary experimental design and approaches including chemical and genetic screens in mammalian cells, quantitative metabolomics and proteomics, biochemistry, mouse pre-clinical models of obesity/diabetes, mitochondrial diseases and cancer.    

Tom Rapoport

Professor of Cell Biology
HHMI Investigator

Tom Rapoport, Ph.D., joined the faculty at Harvard Medical School in 1995. He received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the Humboldt University in East-Berlin for work in enzymology. He then focused on mathematical modeling of metabolism, for which he received his second degree (Habilitation) from the same institution. Before moving to the US, he worked at the Central Institute of Molecular Biology of the Academy of Sciences of the GDR and later at the Max-Delbrueck Center for Molecular Medicine in Berlin-Buch. In 1997, he became a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator.

The Rapoport Lab is interested in the mechanisms by which proteins are transported across membranes, how misfolded proteins are degraded, and how organelles form and maintain their characteristic shapes. Most of the projects center around the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). One project concerns the molecular mechanism by which proteins are translocated across the ER membrane or across the plasma membrane in bacteria and archaea. Much of the current work deals with ERAD (ER-associated protein degradation), a process in which misfolded proteins are retro-translocated across the ER membrane into the cytosol. Major questions concern the mechanism by which proteins move across the membrane and are extracted by the Cdc48 ATPase. Another project concerns the mechanism by which ER morphology, specifically the tubular ER network, is generated. More recently, the Rapoport lab has started to study how proteins are imported into peroxisomes, and how lung surfactant proteins generate lamellar bodies. The lab employs a variety of different techniques, including biochemical methods, such as reconstitutions with purified proteins, and structural biology methods, including X-ray crystallography and cryo-electron microscopy.

Robin Reed

Professor of Cell Biology

Robin Reed, Ph.D. became a Professor of Cell Biology in 2000. She received her Ph.D. in Molecular biology at Yale University and carried out postdoctoral studies at Harvard University (Cambridge).

Research in the Reed Lab focuses on pre-mRNA splicing and mRNA export as well as numerous other aspects of RNA metabolism. Both the basic biology and disease states are examined in the lab. These diseases include ALS, blood cancers and familial dysautonomia. We use both in vitro and in vivo systems for transcription, splicing and other steps of gene expression. We also use CRISPR editing of human embryonic stem cells, proteomics, RNA-seq and other molecular approaches to understand the biology of gene expression and to identify potential therapeutics for the associated diseases.

Adrian Salic

Adrian Salic
Professor of Cell Biology

Adrian Salic, Ph.D. was appointed Assistant Professor of Cell Biology in 2005, after completing his postdoctoral research in the Department of Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School. He received his PhD from Harvard University in 2000. His development of novel tools to detect DNA and RNA synthesis resulted in the creation of the commerically-available "Click-iT" EdU and EU kits that are now widely used by labs around the world.

The Salic lab studies biochemical and cellular mechanisms involved in signal transduction through the Hedgehog signaling pathway. We also develop and apply new chemical technologies to study the cell biology of lipids.

Chris Sander

Professor in Residence of Cell Biology
Director of cBio Center (DFCI)

Chris Sander, Ph.D., received a Master's Degree in physics from Berkeley, followed by a Ph.D. at SUNY, Stony Brook in theoretical physics. He did a postdoc in molecular biology at the Weizmann Institute. He was the founding Director and Department Chair of the Computational Biology Center and Program at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center from 2002-2015, after which he joined HMS as a Professor-in-Residence of Cell Biology. He is the Director of cBio Center at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

The overall goal of the Sander lab is to solve biological problems using quantitative methods from bioinformatics, statistical physics, data sciences, statistics, computer science, and mathematics. We apply these computational methods to build predictive network models of molecular and cell-cell interactions, to support cancer precision medicine, and to make discoveries in structural and evolutionary biology.

Sichen (Susan) Shao

Assistant Professor of Cell Biology

Sichen (Susan) Shao, Ph.D., joined Harvard Medical School in 2016. Susan received her Ph.D. in biological sciences from the NIH graduate partnerships program with Johns Hopkins University. She then performed postdoctoral work at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, UK.

The Shao Lab studies cellular mechanisms that surveil different steps of protein biosynthesis to regulate gene expression and maintain protein homeostasis. How quality control factors distinguish rare aberrant products from similar biosynthetic intermediates is a fundamental problem in biomedical science. The Shao Lab biochemically reconstitutes quality control pathways that act on ribosomes during protein synthesis and that sort membrane proteins to different organelles. Combining these experimental systems with mechanistic and structural approaches generates molecular-level insights into physiological processes essential for cell survival, proliferation, and differentiation.

Bruce Spiegelman

Professor of Cancer Biology (DFCI)
Stanley J. Korsmeyer Professor of Cell Biology and Medicine

Bruce Spiegelman, Ph.D. received a B.S. from the College of William and Mary and his doctorate from Princeton University. His postdoctoral training was at MIT, and he was hired to join the faculty at Harvard Medical School and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in 1982. Dr. Spiegelman was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Medicine and is a Foreign Associate of EMBO.

The Spiegelman laboratory is centered on the molecular basis of energy homeostasis and tissue development, using adipogenesis and muscle as the primary model systems. This includes the biochemical mechanisms of metabolic diseases, especially obesity, insulin-resistant diabetes (type 2) and muscle diseases. In addition, we have a major interest in suppressing cancer cell growth by stimulating pathways of altered cell metabolism and DNA repair.

David Van Vactor

Professor of Cell Biology
Director of Biological and Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program
Program Director/PI of Molecular Cellular and Developmental Dynamics T32
Faculty Director of Harvard Curriculum Fellows Program

David Van Vactor, Ph.D. is a Professor of Cell Biology in the Blavatnik Institute at Harvard Medical School (HMS) and a member of the Program in Neuroscience and the DFCI/Harvard Cancer Center. He is the Faculty Director of the HMS Curriculum Fellows program and Director/PI of Harvard’s Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Dynamics (MCD2) T32 PhD training program. He is also a Visiting Professor at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) Graduate University in Japan.  Dr. Van Vactor received his B.A. in Behavioral Biology at the Johns Hopkins University and his Ph.D. from the Department of Biological Chemistry at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), before post-doctoral research at the University of California, Berkeley.

The Van Vactor Lab is focused on understanding the development, maintenance and plasticity of neuromuscular connectivity in the model organism Drosophila. The coordinated morphogenesis of the synapse, fundamental unit of cell-cell communication in neural networks, requires many layers of regulatory mechanisms.  Genome-wide enhancer/suppressor screens to define the molecular machinery controlling neuromuscular junction development (NMJ) led us to multiple translational regulators, including a number of microRNA (miR) genes. Because the fly NMJ has served so well for genetic analysis of synapse development and function in many labs, we have a sophisticated knowledge of underling pathways and gene networks, thus making this a system particularly well suited to explore upstream regulatory logic. Using conditional genetic tools to manipulate the function of conserved miRs and their target genes, we have identified several novel regulatory pathways.  In addition, through a close and long-term collaboration with the Artavanis-Tsakonas Lab, we have worked to better understand developmental and age-dependent degeneration of the neuromuscular system using a variety of models for human disease in Drosophila.

Tobias Walther

Tobias Walther, Ph.D.
Professor of Molecular Metabolism (Harvard T.H. Chan SPH)
Professor of Cell Biology
HHMI Investigator

Tobi Walther, Ph.D., received his PhD in biology from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory and Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich, and trained as a postdoc in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at UCSF. He became a Group Leader at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried, Germany. In 2010, he relocated his lab and became Associate Professor of Cell Biology at the Yale School of Medicine. In 2014, Dr. Walther joined the Harvard Chan School of Public Health’s Department of Genetics and Complex Diseases, and studies the mechanisms of lipid and membrane homeostasis in cells and organisms with his scientific partner, Bob Farese Jr.

The Farese & Walther laboratory determines the mechanisms how cells regulate the abundance of lipids, how they store lipids to buffer fluctuation in their availability and how these processes function in membrane biology and cell physiology.

Malcolm Whitman

M. Whitman
Professor of Developmental Biology (HSDM)
Affiliate member of Cell Biology

Malcolm Whitman, Ph.D., received his doctorate from Harvard University in 1985 while working on phosphatidylinositol kinases with Lew Cantley. After his postdoctoral studies with Doug Melton studying signaling in embryogenesis, also at Harvard, he joined the Cell Biology faculty at Harvard Medical School in 1992. In 2007, he became a Professor of Developmental Biology at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine.

The Whitman lab is interested in how signals are transduced into highly specific biological responses during embryogenesis, during physiological responses of an organism to stress or damage,  and  during the development of various disease pathologies.

Alumni

Yang Shi

Group Leader in Cancer Genomics at Ludwig Cancer Research Center.
Investigator
Department of Neonatology (BCH; interim during transition)

Yang Shi, Ph.D., obtained his doctorate from NYU in molecular biology and trained as a postdoctoral fellow at Princeton University. He joined Harvard Medical School as an assistant professor in 1991. He was the Merton Bernfield Professor of Neonatology in the Division of Newborn Medicine at Boston Children's Hospital from 2009-2018, after which he was named the C.H. Waddington Professor of Pediatrics. In 2020, he was appointed a Member of the Oxford Branch of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research at the University of Oxford. Yang is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

A major focus of the Shi lab is to understand epigenetic regulation and its role in human diseases. The Shi lab discovered the first histone methyl eraser, LSD1, and they continue to investigate how histone methylation is dynamically regulated as well as mechanisms involved in the recognition of combinatorial modifications occurring on histone tails that are important for chromatin regulation. More recently, the Shi lab has  been studying RNA modifications and how they impact gene expression regulation. At Ludwig Oxford, Yang's lab will be focusing on acute myeloid leukaemia and diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, two cancers in which chromatin and epigenetics play critical roles.

Junying Yuan

Junying Yuan
Elizabeth D. Hay Professor of Cell Biology

Junying Yuan received her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Harvard University in 1989 and her undergraduate degree from Fudan University, Shanghai, China, in 1982. She carried out her Ph.D research at MIT, and was appointed as Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School in 1992, when she became a Principal Investigator of the Cardiovascular Research Center at Massachusetts General Hospital. She joined the Department of Cell Biology in 1996 and has been the Elizabeth D. Hay Professor of Cell Biology at HMS since 2014. She was elected to the National Academy of Science in 2017.

The research in Yuan lab is aimed at elucidation of the molecular mechanisms regulating cell death under physiological and pathological conditions.

Emeritus Faculty

Everett (Andy) Anderson

Everett Anderson
Professor Emeritus of Cell Biology
James Stillman Professor of Comparative Anatomy
Dr. Anderson continues to teach courses for HMS med students and HSDM students.