Iain M. Cheeseman

Iain M. Cheeseman

Herman and Margaret Sokol Professor of Biology; Core Member, Whitehead Institute; Associate Department Head

Iain Cheeseman analyzes the process by which cells duplicate, focusing on how the molecular machinery that segregates the chromosomes is rewired across diverse physiological contexts.





Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research


Brittany Brady



Assistant Phone


  • PhD, 2002, University of California, Berkeley
  • BS, 1997, Biology, Duke University

Research Summary 

Our lab is fascinated by the molecular machinery that directs core cellular processes, and in particular how these processes are modulated and rewired across different physiological contexts. Our work has focused on the proteins that direct chromosome segregation and cell division, including the macromolecular kinetochore structure that mediates chromosome-microtubule interactions. Although cell division is an essential cellular process, this machinery is remarkably flexible in its composition and properties, which can vary dramatically between species and are even modulated within the same organism — over the cell cycle, during development, and across diverse physiological situations. To define the basis by which the kinetochore and other core cellular structures are rewired to adapt to diverse situations and functional requirements, we are currently investigating diverse transcriptional, translational, and post-translational mechanisms that act to generate proteomic variability both within individual cells and across tissues, cell state, development, and disease.


  • Global Consortium for Reproductive Longevity and Equality (GCRLE) Scholar Award, 2020
  • MIT Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) Outstanding Mentor - Faculty, 2019
  • American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) Early Career Life Scientist Award, 2012
  • Searle Scholar Award, 2009-2012
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Recent Publications

  1. A conserved germline-specific Dsn1 alternative splice isoform supports oocyte and embryo development. Ly, J, Blengini, CS, Cady, SL, Schindler, K, Cheeseman, IM. 2024. bioRxiv , .
    doi: 10.1101/2024.04.17.589883PMID:38659852
  2. Functional genetics reveals modulators of anti-microtubule drug sensitivity. Su, KC, Radul, E, Maier, NK, Tsang, MJ, Goul, C, Moodie, B, Keys, HR, Cheeseman, IM. 2024. bioRxiv , .
    doi: 10.1101/2024.03.12.584469PMID:38559203
  3. Higher-order protein assembly controls kinetochore formation. Sissoko, GB, Tarasovetc, EV, Marescal, O, Grishchuk, EL, Cheeseman, IM. 2024. Nat Cell Biol 26, 45-56.
    doi: 10.1038/s41556-023-01313-7PMID:38168769
  4. Alternative CDC20 translational isoforms tune mitotic arrest duration. Tsang, MJ, Cheeseman, IM. 2023. Nature 617, 154-161.
    doi: 10.1038/s41586-023-05943-7PMID:37100900
  5. The phenotypic landscape of essential human genes. Funk, L, Su, KC, Ly, J, Feldman, D, Singh, A, Moodie, B, Blainey, PC, Cheeseman, IM. 2022. Cell 185, 4634-4653.e22.
    doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2022.10.017PMID:36347254
  6. Identification of a Golgi-localized peptide reveals a minimal Golgi-targeting motif. Navarro, AP, Cheeseman, IM. 2022. Mol Biol Cell 33, ar110.
    doi: 10.1091/mbc.E22-03-0091PMID:35921174
  7. Dynamic cell cycle-dependent phosphorylation modulates CENP-L-CENP-N centromere recruitment. Navarro, AP, Cheeseman, IM. 2022. Mol Biol Cell 33, ar87.
    doi: 10.1091/mbc.E22-06-0239PMID:35830614
  8. Polarized Dishevelled dissolution and reassembly drives embryonic axis specification in sea star oocytes. Swartz, SZ, Tan, TH, Perillo, M, Fakhri, N, Wessel, GM, Wikramanayake, AH, Cheeseman, IM. 2021. Curr Biol 31, 5633-5641.e4.
    doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2021.10.022PMID:34739818
  9. Separase cleaves the kinetochore protein Meikin at the meiosis I/II transition. Maier, NK, Ma, J, Lampson, MA, Cheeseman, IM. 2021. Dev Cell 56, 2192-2206.e8.
    doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2021.06.019PMID:34331869
  10. Kinetochore assembly throughout the cell cycle. Navarro, AP, Cheeseman, IM. 2021. Semin Cell Dev Biol 117, 62-74.
    doi: 10.1016/j.semcdb.2021.03.008PMID:33753005
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Photo credit: Gretchen Ertl/Whitehead Institute