Richard A. Young

Richard A. Young

Professor of Biology; Member, Whitehead Institute

Richard A. Young explores how and why gene expression differs in healthy versus diseased cells.





Mary Anne Donovan



Assistant Phone


  • PhD, 1979, Yale University
  • BS, 1975, Biological Sciences, Indiana University

Research Summary

We use experimental and computational technologies to determine how signaling pathways, transcription factors, chromatin regulators and small RNAs regulate gene expression in healthy and diseased cells. Our interests range from the basic molecular mechanisms behind gene control to drug development for cancer and other diseases caused by gene misregulation.


  • National Academy of Medicine, Member, 2019
  • National Academy of Sciences, Member, 2012

Key Publications

  1. A Phase Separation Model for Transcriptional Control. Hnisz, D, Shrinivas, K, Young, RA, Chakraborty, AK, Sharp, PA. 2017. Cell 169, 13-23.
    doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2017.02.007PMID:28340338
  2. Transcriptional Addiction in Cancer. Bradner, JE, Hnisz, D, Young, RA. 2017. Cell 168, 629-643.
    doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2016.12.013PMID:28187285
  3. Insulated Neighborhoods: Structural and Functional Units of Mammalian Gene Control. Hnisz, D, Day, DS, Young, RA. 2016. Cell 167, 1188-1200.
    doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2016.10.024PMID:27863240
  4. Activation of proto-oncogenes by disruption of chromosome neighborhoods. Hnisz, D, Weintraub, AS, Day, DS, Valton, AL, Bak, RO, Li, CH, Goldmann, J, Lajoie, BR, Fan, ZP, Sigova, AA et al.. 2016. Science 351, 1454-1458.
    doi: 10.1126/science.aad9024PMID:26940867
  5. Transcription factor trapping by RNA in gene regulatory elements. Sigova, AA, Abraham, BJ, Ji, X, Molinie, B, Hannett, NM, Guo, YE, Jangi, M, Giallourakis, CC, Sharp, PA, Young, RA et al.. 2015. Science 350, 978-81.
    doi: 10.1126/science.aad3346PMID:26516199

Recent Publications

  1. Biomolecular Condensates and Cancer. Boija, A, Klein, IA, Young, RA. 2021. Cancer Cell 39, 174-192.
    doi: 10.1016/j.ccell.2020.12.003PMID:33417833
  2. RNA-Mediated Feedback Control of Transcriptional Condensates. Henninger, JE, Oksuz, O, Shrinivas, K, Sagi, I, LeRoy, G, Zheng, MM, Andrews, JO, Zamudio, AV, Lazaris, C, Hannett, NM et al.. 2021. Cell 184, 207-225.e24.
    doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2020.11.030PMID:33333019
  3. MeCP2 links heterochromatin condensates and neurodevelopmental disease. Li, CH, Coffey, EL, Dall'Agnese, A, Hannett, NM, Tang, X, Henninger, JE, Platt, JM, Oksuz, O, Zamudio, AV, Afeyan, LK et al.. 2020. Nature 586, 440-444.
    doi: 10.1038/s41586-020-2574-4PMID:32698189
  4. Biomolecular Condensates in the Nucleus. Sabari, BR, Dall'Agnese, A, Young, RA. 2020. Trends Biochem Sci 45, 961-977.
    doi: 10.1016/j.tibs.2020.06.007PMID:32684431
  5. Partitioning of cancer therapeutics in nuclear condensates. Klein, IA, Boija, A, Afeyan, LK, Hawken, SW, Fan, M, Dall'Agnese, A, Oksuz, O, Henninger, JE, Shrinivas, K, Sabari, BR et al.. 2020. Science 368, 1386-1392.
    doi: 10.1126/science.aaz4427PMID:32554597
  6. Mediator Condensates Localize Signaling Factors to Key Cell Identity Genes. Zamudio, AV, Dall'Agnese, A, Henninger, JE, Manteiga, JC, Afeyan, LK, Hannett, NM, Coffey, EL, Li, CH, Oksuz, O, Sabari, BR et al.. 2019. Mol Cell 76, 753-766.e6.
    doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2019.08.016PMID:31563432
  7. Pol II phosphorylation regulates a switch between transcriptional and splicing condensates. Guo, YE, Manteiga, JC, Henninger, JE, Sabari, BR, Dall'Agnese, A, Hannett, NM, Spille, JH, Afeyan, LK, Zamudio, AV, Shrinivas, K et al.. 2019. Nature 572, 543-548.
    doi: 10.1038/s41586-019-1464-0PMID:31391587
  8. Transcription Factors Activate Genes through the Phase-Separation Capacity of Their Activation Domains. Boija, A, Klein, IA, Sabari, BR, Dall'Agnese, A, Coffey, EL, Zamudio, AV, Li, CH, Shrinivas, K, Manteiga, JC, Hannett, NM et al.. 2018. Cell 175, 1842-1855.e16.
    doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2018.10.042PMID:30449618
  9. Author Correction: Enhancer decommissioning by LSD1 during embryonic stem cell differentiation. Whyte, WA, Bilodeau, S, Orlando, DA, Hoke, HA, Frampton, GM, Foster, CT, Cowley, SM, Young, RA. 2018. Nature 562, E24.
    doi: 10.1038/s41586-018-0487-2PMID:30209401
  10. Coactivator condensation at super-enhancers links phase separation and gene control. Sabari, BR, Dall'Agnese, A, Boija, A, Klein, IA, Coffey, EL, Shrinivas, K, Abraham, BJ, Hannett, NM, Zamudio, AV, Manteiga, JC et al.. 2018. Science 361, .
    doi: 10.1126/science.aar3958PMID:29930091
More Publications


Photo credit: Gretchen Ertl/Whitehead Institute