J. Keith Joung, MD, PhD

Joung Laboratory

The Joung laboratory utilizes engineered zinc finger, transcription activator-like effector (TALE), and RNA-guided CRISPR/Cas-based systems to create sequence expression alterations in living cells and organisms.


Program Affiliations

Research Resources

J. Keith Joung, MD, PhD
Professor of Pathology,
Harvard Medical School

Associate Pathologist,
Associate Chief for Research,
The Jim and Ann Orr MGH Research Scholar,
Massachusetts General Hospital

Research Summary

The Joung Laboratory develops technologies for genome engineering using artificial "designer" DNA-binding domains.  We utilize engineered zinc finger, transcription activator-like effector (TALE), and RNA-guided CRISPR/Cas-based systems to direct specific genomic alterations in living cells and organisms.  In addition to developing and optimizing these technologies, we are exploring their applications for biological research and gene therapy.

Read more about the Joung Lab from the Center for Cancer Research Annual Report. and the Pathology Basic Science Research Brochure.


Geometric shapes with fluorescense imaging picturesPathology research report

Group Members

Principal Investigator
J. Keith Joung
The Jim and Ann Orr MGH Research Scholar,
Associate Chief of Pathology, Research

Lab Members

  • James Angstman – Graduate student, Harvard MCO program
  • Rebecca Cottman – Graduate student, Harvard BBS program
  • Stacy Francis – Senior Research Technologist
  • Jason Gehrke – Graduate student, Harvard MCO program
  • Benjamin Kleinstiver – Post-doctoral Fellow
  • Nhu Nguyen – Research Technician I
  • Michelle Prew – Research Technician I
  • Ved Topkar - Undergraduate Student, Harvard College
  • Shengdar Tsai – Post-doctoral Fellow


Research Projects

Research Projects

The Zinc Finger Consortium

The Joung Laboratory seeks to develop and apply robust technologies for editing the genome and epigenome to understand human biology and treat disease. We have extensive experience with genome editing, epigenome editing, protein engineering, building and screening of large-scale combinatorial libraries, automation, and the study of protein-DNA interactions. Over the last several years, we have developed publicly available, open-source platforms for engineering zinc fingers, transcription activator-like effectors (TALEs), and clustered, regularly interspaced, short palindromic repeat (CRISPR)-Cas proteins and pioneered the use of these platforms to address important questions and limitations in biological research. We have also begun to explore the use of these platforms to modulate both gene sequence and gene expression for therapeutic applications.

Targeted genome editing using nucleases with customizable specificities

Our lab has developed highly robust methods for engineering zinc finger nucleases (ZFNs), TALE nucleases (TALENs), and CRISPR-Cas9 nucleases. Using these three platforms, we (and our collaborators) have introduced targeted DNA alterations with high efficiencies into specific genomic loci in zebrafish, plants, or human somatic and pluripotent stem cells. These alterations result from repair of nuclease-induced double-stranded DNA breaks by normal cellular repair processes (non-homologous end-joining or homologous recombination). Ongoing projects in the lab are aimed at defining and improving the specificities of these platforms and optimizing the editing capabilities of these methods for eventual therapeutic applications. We are also continuing to explore the development of novel technologies that will enable high-throughput genome editing.

Targeted epigenome editing to induce alterations in endogenous gene expression

We have demonstrated that engineered zinc fingers, TALEs, and CRISPR-Cas proteins can all be used to construct artificial transcription factors that can robustly alter the expression of endogenous human genes. More recently, we have also shown that engineered TALEs can be used to direct histone modifications that can inactivate endogenous gene enhancers (work done with Bradley Bernstein's lab) and to direct demethylation of specific promoter CpGs that can lead to increases in endogenous gene expression. These studies provide important proofs-of-principle that customized DNA targeting technologies can be used to modify the epigenome. In the longer-term, we seek to develop methods and technologies that will allow us to stably reprogram and re-wire the expression of endogenous genes in human cells. These capabilities will have important research applications for studying gene regulation but may also provide novel tools for altering the expression of disease-associated genes.

For more information about research concepts, co-authors, and to see a timeline, see Dr. Joung's research profile at the Harvard Clinical and Translational Science Center.


Research Positions

Find information by visiting the Harvard Medical School Molecular Genetic Pathology Training Program, and other Pathology fellowship programs at the Massachusetts General Hospital.


Bibliography of J. Keith Joung via PubMed

Selected Publications


Contact Us

Joung Laboratory

Massachusetts General Hospital

149 13th Street, 6th Floor Charlestown, MA 02129
  • Phone: 617-726-9462
  • Fax: 617-726-5684

Email: jjoung@partners.org

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