You are here

Christopher Newton-Cheh

Christopher Newton-Cheh, M.D., Ph.D.

Chris Newton-Cheh is a complex trait geneticist and cardiovascular epidemiologist, and holds positions as an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and a cardiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital. His laboratory investigates hypertension, sudden cardiac death and drug cardiotoxicity. Chris and his colleagues are leveraging the rapid growth of human genetics to identify genetic variants that underlie these diseases, translate genetic discoveries into an improved understanding of human physiology through clinically-focused research, and define the role of genetics and other factors in predicting patients’ risk of disease.


Sudden cardiac death (SCD) is a common cardiovascular disease that claims 300,000 lives annually in the US and is influenced by genetic factors. Prolongation of the electrocardiographic QT interval is a risk factor for sudden cardiac death in the general population and is also a life-threatening complication of scores of medications. Chris and his colleagues have identified novel genes and DNA sequence variants that contribute to variability of the QT interval, and together with his collaborators, they are leading international consortia in studies of QT interval, including QTGEN and QT-IGC.

Elevated blood pressure, or hypertension, is another common cardiovascular condition, affecting an estimated 1 billion people worldwide, that increases patients’ risk of stroke, heart failure myocardial infarction, and chronic kidney disease. Blood pressure is a complex trait with multiple environmental and genetic influences. It is highly heritable, but to date the genetic causes of variation in blood pressure in the general population have been poorly defined. Chris and his colleagues have identified blood biomarkers and common genetic variants that contribute to blood pressure and hypertension, and are leading international research efforts, including Global BPgen and ICBP-GWAS.

Chris is on the faculty of the Center for Human Genetic Research and the Cardiovascular Research Center, where he co-directs the Human Cardiovascular Genetics Program, both of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Chris also directs the Primer on Medical and Population Genetics at the Broad Institute, a twelve-week lecture series on basic topics relevant to the genetic investigation of complex traits and diseases. He receives support from the NIH, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.

Chris trained in internal medicine and cardiology at the Massachusetts General Hospital. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship in complex trait genetics at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT with Joel N. Hirschhorn, MD, PhD from 2002 to 2007.

A list of recent publications by Chris and his colleagues can be obtained here:

PDFs of select papers of interest are also available here:

April 2011