Ali Shilatifard, PhD

Robert Francis Furchgott Professor and Chair of Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, Feinberg School of Medicine; Member of Robert H. Lurie Cancer Center of Northwestern University

Our laboratory studies the protein complexes that regulate gene expression during normal development and how the mutations within the components of these complexes are associated with human cancer, with a focus on childhood leukemia. Our interest lies in how these complexes function and how information about their catalytic properties can be used for the treatment of many human malignancies. Our laboratory discovered the Set1/COMPASS of yeast as human MLL related factors and the first histone H3K4 methylase. We demonstrated that unlike yeast, mammalian cells have an extended set of six COMPASS family members containing MLL1-4 and recent studies have demonstrated that many of the MLLs are mutated in large numbers of solid tumors and hematological malignancies. We also biochemically isolated the Super Elongation Complex (SEC) containing many of the MLL partners in leukemia and demonstrated it to function in developmental regulation.  Our studies demonstrate that Pol II elongation factors prime gene expression by marking enhancers in ES cells or even as early as in the germ cell state and that transcription elongation control is misregulated in MLL translocation based leukemia.

Dr. Shilatifard serves as a senior editor for the journal Science and Deputy editor for Science Advances. He also serves on the scientific advisory boards of Genentech, Keystone Symposia, and the Max-Planck Society. 




Contact Information:

Office: Searle 6-512
Phone: 312-503-5223
Email: ASH [at] northwestern [dot] edu 

Administrative Assistant:

Beverly Kirk
Phone: 312-503-5217
Email: beverly [dot] kirk [at] northwestern [dot] edu