Research Centers


Bernstein Lab

The Bradley Bernstein pathology research lab at Massachusetts General Hospital applies high-throughput, sequencing-based technologies to characterize chromatin structure genome-wide in human and mouse.

Research Summary

The long-term goal of our research is to achieve a comprehensive understanding of chromatin structure and function in mammalian development and human cancer. We are taking a multi-faceted approach involving stem cell biology, genetics, genomics and computational biology. Considerable efforts are being directed towards the development and application of emerging technologies for genomewide analysis of chromatin across diverse cell lineages, with the goal of deciphering the nature and function of the ‘mammalian epigenome’. These studies have led to several discoveries, including the identification of bivalent domains, a novel chromatin structure proposed to keep developmental regulator genes ‘poised’ in pluripotent ES cells.

Current studies are applying stem cell biology and functional tools to characterize the functions of bivalent domains and associated chromatin regulators, such as Polycomb and trithorax complexes. We broadly hypothesize that these chromatin associated proteins play critical roles in balancing potency and lineage-commitment, and guiding lineage decisions throughout development. Recent studies have begun to apply the emerging technologies and computational methods to characterize the chromatin landscapes of malignant cells, with the goal of understanding how epigenetic deregulation can contribute to human cancer. Read more on Dr. Bernstein's research lab website at

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


Geometric shapes with fluorescense imaging picturesPathology research report


Principal Investigator

Bradley E. Bernstein, MD, PhD

  • Associate Pathologist,
    Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Professor of Pathology,
    Harvard Medical School
  • Early Career Scientist,
    Howard Hughes Medical Institute
  • Senior Associate Member, Broad Institute

Members of the Bernstein Laboratory

Postdoc Fellows

Yotam Drier, PhD
HHMI Postdoctoral Associate, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Broad Institute
Research Interest: Cancer genetics, epigenetics, and cellular plasticity

Birgit Knoechel, MD, PhD
Research Interest:

Brian Liau, PhD
Jane Coffin Childs Postdoctoral Fellow
Research Interest: small molecules and epigenomics

Oren Ram, PhD
Research Interest:

Russell J.H. Ryan, MD
Clinical and Research Fellow in Pathology, Massachusetts General Hospital
Research interest: Chromatin regulation in B cell malignancies

Efrat Shema, PhD
Research interest: Single molecule studies

Ik Soo Kim, PhD
Research Fellow, Massachusetts General Hospital
Research interest: Regulatory elements driving cell type changes

Cem Sievers, PhD
Research Fellow, Massachusetts General Hospital
Research Interest: Epigenetic mechanisms in the pathogenesis of glioblastoma

Peter van Galen, PhD
Research Fellow, Massachusetts General Hospital
Research Interest: Epigenetic mechanisms driving stem cell maintenance and leukemia development

Will Flavahan, PhD
Research Fellow, Massachusetts General Hospital
Research Interest: Glioblastoma

Graduate Students

Dan Tarjan
PhD Candidate, Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Harvard Medical School


Julie Finn
Staff Assistant

Shawn Gillespie
Research Technician

Laura Donohue
Research support staff


Mazhar Adli
Andrew Chi
Shawn Gillespie
Alon Goren
Birgit Knoechel
Richard Koche
Manching Ku
Eric Mendenhall
Oren Ram
Esther Rheinbay
Russell Ryan
Mario Suva
Vicky Zhou
Jiang Zhu
James Zou
Mito Yoshiko


Current projects in the lab are focused on the 'bivalent' domains of chromatin with the goals of understanding their initial establishment, their higher-order structure, and their roles in ES cell pluripotency and epigenetic regulation. Similar approaches are also being used to characterize chromatin modifications in adult stem cells and cancer models. Our long-term goal is to achieve a systems level understanding of chromatin regulation during development, and how chromatin mis-regulation contributes to human disease. Read more about the Bernstein pathology research lab.

Bernstein Laboratory

Massachusetts General Hospital
Richard B. Simches Research Building
185 Cambridge Street, CPZN 8234
Boston, MA 02114

Phone: 617-726-6906
Fax: 617-643-3566