Iain M. Cheeseman

Iain M. Cheeseman

Herman and Margaret Sokol Professor of Biology; Member, Whitehead Institute

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.





Nicholas Polizzi



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. 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
  2. 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
  3. Differential requirements for the CENP-O complex reveal parallel PLK1 kinetochore recruitment pathways. Nguyen, AL, Fadel, MD, Cheeseman, IM. 2021. Mol Biol Cell 32, 712-721.
    doi: 10.1091/mbc.E20-11-0751PMID:33596090
  4. Alpha-satellite RNA transcripts are repressed by centromere-nucleolus associations. Bury, L, Moodie, B, Ly, J, McKay, LS, Miga, KH, Cheeseman, IM. 2020. Elife 9, .
    doi: 10.7554/eLife.59770PMID:33174837
  5. Cellular Mechanisms and Regulation of Quiescence. Marescal, O, Cheeseman, IM. 2020. Dev Cell 55, 259-271.
    doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2020.09.029PMID:33171109
  6. Chromosome Segregation: Evolving a Plastic Chromosome-Microtubule Interface. Navarro, AP, Cheeseman, IM. 2020. Curr Biol 30, R174-R177.
    doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2019.12.058PMID:32097646
  7. Quiescent Cells Actively Replenish CENP-A Nucleosomes to Maintain Centromere Identity and Proliferative Potential. Swartz, SZ, McKay, LS, Su, KC, Bury, L, Padeganeh, A, Maddox, PS, Knouse, KA, Cheeseman, IM. 2019. Dev Cell 51, 35-48.e7.
    doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2019.07.016PMID:31422918
  8. Dynamic regulation of dynein localization revealed by small molecule inhibitors of ubiquitination enzymes. Monda, JK, Cheeseman, IM. 2018. Open Biol 8, .
    doi: 10.1098/rsob.180095PMID:30257893
  9. CRISPR/Cas9-based gene targeting using synthetic guide RNAs enables robust cell biological analyses. Su, KC, Tsang, MJ, Emans, N, Cheeseman, IM. 2018. Mol Biol Cell 29, 2370-2377.
    doi: 10.1091/mbc.E18-04-0214PMID:30091644
  10. Nde1 promotes diverse dynein functions through differential interactions and exhibits an isoform-specific proteasome association. Monda, JK, Cheeseman, IM. 2018. Mol Biol Cell 29, 2336-2345.
    doi: 10.1091/mbc.E18-07-0418PMID:30024347
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Photo credit: Gretchen Ertl/Whitehead Institute