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.


  • MacVicar Faculty Fellow, 2021
  • Fellow, Association of American Physicians, 2021
  • 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. Cytokine Storm. Gaestel, M, Nebreda, AR, Yaffe, MB. 2021. N Engl J Med 384, e59.
    doi: 10.1056/NEJMc2036236PMID:33882214
  2. MAPKAP Kinase-2 Drives Expression of Angiogenic Factors by Tumor-Associated Macrophages in a Model of Inflammation-Induced Colon Cancer. Suarez-Lopez, L, Kong, YW, Sriram, G, Patterson, JC, Rosenberg, S, Morandell, S, Haigis, KM, Yaffe, MB. 2020. Front Immunol 11, 607891.
    doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2020.607891PMID:33708191
  3. Inducing DNA damage through R-loops to kill cancer cells. Lam, FC, Kong, YW, Yaffe, MB. 2020. Mol Cell Oncol 8, 1848233.
    doi: 10.1080/23723556.2020.1848233PMID:33553604
  4. Are redox changes a critical switch for mitotic progression? Lim, DC, Joukov, V, Yaffe, MB. 2020. Mol Cell Oncol 7, 1832419.
    doi: 10.1080/23723556.2020.1832419PMID:33235921
  5. Plasmin thrombelastography rapidly identifies trauma patients at risk for massive transfusion, mortality, and hyperfibrinolysis: A diagnostic tool to resolve an international debate on tranexamic acid? Barrett, CD, Moore, HB, Vigneshwar, N, Dhara, S, Chandler, J, Chapman, MP, Sauaia, A, Moore, EE, Yaffe, MB. 2020. J Trauma Acute Care Surg 89, 991-998.
    doi: 10.1097/TA.0000000000002941PMID:33230046
  6. COVID-19: All the wrong moves in all the wrong places. Barrett, CD, Yaffe, MB. 2020. Sci Signal 13, .
    doi: 10.1126/scisignal.abe4242PMID:32934074
  7. Transite: A Computational Motif-Based Analysis Platform That Identifies RNA-Binding Proteins Modulating Changes in Gene Expression. Krismer, K, Bird, MA, Varmeh, S, Handly, ED, Gattinger, A, Bernwinkler, T, Anderson, DA, Heinzel, A, Joughin, BA, Kong, YW et al.. 2020. Cell Rep 32, 108064.
    doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2020.108064PMID:32846122
  8. STudy of Alteplase for Respiratory failure in SARS-Cov2/COVID-19: Study Design of the Phase IIa STARS Trial. Moore, HB, Barrett, CD, Moore, EE, Jhunjhnuwala, R, McIntyre, RC, Moore, PK, Wang, J, Hajizadeh, N, Talmor, DS, Sauaia, A et al.. 2020. Res Pract Thromb Haemost , .
    doi: 10.1002/rth2.12395PMID:32838109
  9. Enhancing chemotherapy response through augmented synthetic lethality by co-targeting nucleotide excision repair and cell-cycle checkpoints. Kong, YW, Dreaden, EC, Morandell, S, Zhou, W, Dhara, SS, Sriram, G, Lam, FC, Patterson, JC, Quadir, M, Dinh, A et al.. 2020. Nat Commun 11, 4124.
    doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-17958-zPMID:32807787
  10. BRD4 prevents the accumulation of R-loops and protects against transcription-replication collision events and DNA damage. Lam, FC, Kong, YW, Huang, Q, Vu Han, TL, Maffa, AD, Kasper, EM, Yaffe, MB. 2020. Nat Commun 11, 4083.
    doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-17503-yPMID:32796829
More Publications
Photo credit: Bryce Vickmark