Area: Molecular and Human Genetics
Assistant Professor of Molecular and Human Genetics and a McNair Scholar
Dr. Erez Lieberman Aiden, assistant professor of molecular and human genetics, is revolutionizing the study of how the human genome, at more than two meters long, folds up to fit inside the cell nucleus, and how this process governs gene regulation.
His recent work builds on the Hi-C method, which he invented in graduate school. By coupling DNA to DNA proximity ligation and high-throughput sequencing, Hi-C made it possible to solve the problem of how genomes fold. His lab has made a series of transformative discoveries: the compartmentalization of the human genome inside the nucleus; developing the first map of loops in the human genome and discovering how their positions are encoded; the demonstration that these loops form by extrusion, which has enormous consequences for the enzymology of DNA and which is now almost universally accepted; the ability to perform 3-D surgery on a genome by manipulating this code to control the extrusion process; and a method for assembling new, Human Genome Project-quality genomes for $1,000.
Dr. Aiden’s impact is easily quantified. His lab’s paper on mapping loops genome-wide for the first time has been cited more than 1,000 times, the most for any research article in Cell since 2014, and the 3-D genome browser it introduced has been used more than 100 million times. In the last year alone, the Aiden lab has published two papers in Cell, one of which was featured on the cover, and one in Science.
Dr. Lieberman’s nomination was based on the following publications:
Rao SS, Huntley MH, Durand NC, Stamenova EK, Bochkov ID, Robinson JT, Sanborn AL, Machol I, Omer AD, Lander ES, Erez Lieberman Aiden. A 3D map of the human genome at kilobase resolution reveals principles of chromatin looping. Cell 2014.
Olga Dudchenko, Sanjit S. Batra*, Arina D. Omer*, Sarah K. Nyquist, Marie Hoeger, Neva C. Durand, Muhammad S. Shamim, Ido Machol, Eric S. Lander, Aviva Presser Aiden, Erez Lieberman Aiden. De novo assembly of the Aedes aegypti genome using Hi-C yields chromosome-length scaffolds. Science 2017.
Sanborn AL, Rao SS, Huang SC, Durand NC, Huntley MH, Jewett AI, Bochkov ID, Chinnappan D, Cutkosky A, Li J, Geeting KP, Gnirke A, Melnikov A, McKenna D, Stamenova EK, Lander ES, Erez Lieberman Aiden. Chromatin extrusion explains key features of loop and domain formation in wild-type and engineered genomes. PNAS 2015.