Bradley E. Bernstein, M.D., Ph.D.

Bradley E. Bernstein is an institute member at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, and chair of the Department of Cancer Biology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. He is also a professor in cell biology and pathology at Harvard Medical School, and holds the Richard and Nancy Lubin Family Chair. Bernstein directs the Gene Regulation Observatory (GRO) and co-directs the Broad’s Epigenomics Program.

Bernstein’s research focuses on epigenetics — changes in gene activity governed by influences outside the genes themselves — and specifically how modifications to the protein scaffold called chromatin contribute to mammalian development and human cancer. Bernstein’s laboratory is characterizing epigenetic mechanisms that underlie stem cells’ ability to give rise to almost any kind of cell, and exploring how epigenetic mechanisms contribute to malignant transformation and tumor progression. His work is notable for the discovery of bivalent domains that poise developmental genes for alternate fates in stem cells, for the systematic identification of enhancer “switches” in the human genome that control cell type-specific gene activity, and for the characterization of epigenetic aberrations that lead to cancer.

The GRO launched in 2020 to bring together scientists investigating the noncoding sequences, elements, and functional interactions that regulate context-specific gene expression. The GRO ultimately aims to systematically reconstruct the gene regulatory circuits that govern cell states and transitions relevant to normal physiology and disease.

After receiving his M.D. and Ph.D., Bernstein completed a residency in clinical pathology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He carried out postdoctoral research at Harvard University with Stuart Schreiber and also collaborated extensively with Eric Lander. He joined the faculty of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in 2005, moving to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in 2021.

Bernstein’s honors and awards include a Career Award in the Biomedical Sciences from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, election into the American Society for Clinical Investigation and the National Academy of Medicine, an Early Career Scientist award from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Bernard and Mildred Kayden Endowed MGH Chair (2016-2021), an NIH Director’s Pioneer Award, an American Cancer Society Research Professorship, and the Paul Marks Prize for Cancer Research.

Bernstein received his B.S. from Yale University in physics and his M.D. and Ph.D. from the University of Washington School of Medicine.

October 2023