Michael B. Yaffe

Michael B. Yaffe

Director, MIT Center for Precision Cancer Medicine; David H. Koch Professor in Science; Professor of Biological Engineering

Michael B. Yaffe studies the chain of reactions that controls a cell’s response to stress, cell injury, and DNA damage.





Thomas Dietzel



Assistant Phone


  • PhD, 1987, Case Western Reserve University; MD, 1989, Case Western Reserve University
  • BS, 1981, Chemistry with Concentration in Solid-State and Polymer Physics, Cornell University

Research Summary

Our goal is to understand how signaling pathways are integrated at the molecular and systems levels to control cellular responses. We have two main focuses: First, we study signaling pathways and networks that control cell cycle progression and DNA damage responses in cancer and cancer therapy. Second, we examine the cross-talk between inflammation, cytokine signaling and cancer. Much of our work focuses on how modular protein domains and kinases work together to build molecular signaling circuits, and how this information can be used to design synergistic drug combinations for the personalized treatment of human disease.


  • Teaching with Digital Technology Award, 2018

Key Publications

  1. A Pleiotropic RNA-Binding Protein Controls Distinct Cell Cycle Checkpoints to Drive Resistance of p53-Defective Tumors to Chemotherapy. Cannell, IG, Merrick, KA, Morandell, S, Zhu, CQ, Braun, CJ, Grant, RA, Cameron, ER, Tsao, MS, Hemann, MT, Yaffe, MB et al.. 2015. Cancer Cell 28, 623-637.
    doi: 10.1016/j.ccell.2015.09.009PMID:26602816
  2. Phospho-Ser/Thr-binding domains: navigating the cell cycle and DNA damage response. Reinhardt, HC, Yaffe, MB. 2013. Nat. Rev. Mol. Cell Biol. 14, 563-80.
    doi: 10.1038/nrm3640PMID:23969844
  3. The bromodomain protein Brd4 insulates chromatin from DNA damage signalling. Floyd, SR, Pacold, ME, Huang, Q, Clarke, SM, Lam, FC, Cannell, IG, Bryson, BD, Rameseder, J, Lee, MJ, Blake, EJ et al.. 2013. Nature 498, 246-50.
    doi: 10.1038/nature12147PMID:23728299
  4. Sequential application of anticancer drugs enhances cell death by rewiring apoptotic signaling networks. Lee, MJ, Ye, AS, Gardino, AK, Heijink, AM, Sorger, PK, MacBeath, G, Yaffe, MB. 2012. Cell 149, 780-94.
    doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2012.03.031PMID:22579283
  5. DNA damage activates a spatially distinct late cytoplasmic cell-cycle checkpoint network controlled by MK2-mediated RNA stabilization. Reinhardt, HC, Hasskamp, P, Schmedding, I, Morandell, S, van Vugt, MA, Wang, X, Linding, R, Ong, SE, Weaver, D, Carr, SA et al.. 2010. Mol. Cell 40, 34-49.
    doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2010.09.018PMID:20932473

Recent Publications

  1. VISAGE Reveals a Targetable Mitotic Spindle Vulnerability in Cancer Cells. Patterson, JC, Joughin, BA, Prota, AE, Mühlethaler, T, Jonas, OH, Whitman, MA, Varmeh, S, Chen, S, Balk, SP, Steinmetz, MO et al.. 2019. Cell Syst 9, 74-92.e8.
    doi: 10.1016/j.cels.2019.05.009PMID:31302152
  2. Comprehensive substrate specificity profiling of the human Nek kinome reveals unexpected signaling outputs. van de Kooij, B, Creixell, P, van Vlimmeren, A, Joughin, BA, Miller, CJ, Haider, N, Simpson, CD, Linding, R, Stambolic, V, Turk, BE et al.. 2019. Elife 8, .
    doi: 10.7554/eLife.44635PMID:31124786
  3. Atlas Drugged. Chen, JK, Yaffe, MB. 2019. Cell 177, 803-805.
    doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2019.04.023PMID:31051104
  4. ROS and Oxidative Stress Are Elevated in Mitosis during Asynchronous Cell Cycle Progression and Are Exacerbated by Mitotic Arrest. Patterson, JC, Joughin, BA, van de Kooij, B, Lim, DC, Lauffenburger, DA, Yaffe, MB. 2019. Cell Syst 8, 163-167.e2.
    doi: 10.1016/j.cels.2019.01.005PMID:30797774
  5. Why geneticists stole cancer research even though cancer is primarily a signaling disease. Yaffe, MB. 2019. Sci Signal 12, .
    doi: 10.1126/scisignal.aaw3483PMID:30670634
  6. Tranexamic acid mediates proinflammatory and anti-inflammatory signaling via complement C5a regulation in a plasminogen activator-dependent manner. Barrett, CD, Moore, HB, Kong, YW, Chapman, MP, Sriram, G, Lim, D, Moore, EE, Yaffe, MB. 2019. J Trauma Acute Care Surg 86, 101-107.
    doi: 10.1097/TA.0000000000002092PMID:30575685
  7. Blood clotting and traumatic injury with shock mediates complement-dependent neutrophil priming for extracellular ROS, ROS-dependent organ injury and coagulopathy. Barrett, CD, Hsu, AT, Ellson, CD, Y Miyazawa, B, Kong, YW, Greenwood, JD, Dhara, S, Neal, MD, Sperry, JL, Park, MS et al.. 2018. Clin. Exp. Immunol. 194, 103-117.
    doi: 10.1111/cei.13166PMID:30260475
  8. Hierarchical Organization Endows the Kinase Domain with Regulatory Plasticity. Creixell, P, Pandey, JP, Palmeri, A, Bhattacharyya, M, Creixell, M, Ranganathan, R, Pincus, D, Yaffe, MB. 2018. Cell Syst 7, 371-383.e4.
    doi: 10.1016/j.cels.2018.08.008PMID:30243563
  9. MK2 contributes to tumor progression by promoting M2 macrophage polarization and tumor angiogenesis. Suarez-Lopez, L, Sriram, G, Kong, YW, Morandell, S, Merrick, KA, Hernandez, Y, Haigis, KM, Yaffe, MB. 2018. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 115, E4236-E4244.
    doi: 10.1073/pnas.1722020115PMID:29666270
  10. Predicting the future of signaling for 2018. Yaffe, MB. 2018. Sci Signal 11, .
    doi: 10.1126/scisignal.aar7429PMID:29295956
More Publications
Photo credit: Bryce Vickmark