Miguel N. Rivera, M.D.
Miguel Rivera is an institute member at the Broad Institute and an assistant professor of pathology at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Harvard Medical School. He is also an attending physician in the Center for Integrated Diagnostics at MGH and co-director of the Biomarker Discovery Lab at MGH. At the Broad, he interacts extensively with the Cell Circuits, Epigenomics and Cancer Programs, and sits on the steering committee of the Epigenomics program.
Rivera’s research focuses on studying abnormal gene regulation in cancer. Cell proliferation and differentiation are controlled by complex gene expression programs that are orchestrated by transcriptional regulators, including transcription factors, chromatin modifiers, and histones. These genes are often targeted by mutations in cancer and these alterations can be single oncogenic “drivers” that lead to transformation in tumors with low mutation rates such as pediatric cancers and sarcomas. Rivera’s laboratory studies how these powerful oncogenic mechanisms reprogram gene expression patterns in cancer cells by combining genome-wide chromatin profiling with functional studies in tumors, precursor cells, and model systems. Notable findings include the discovery of the WTX tumor suppressor, which is commonly inactivated in Wilms tumor and colon cancer, and the identification of mechanisms of chromatin regulation utilized by oncogenic transcription factors in a variety of tumor types including Wilms tumor, medulloblastoma, and Ewing sarcoma. These mechanistic insights, such as the finding that EWS-mediated phase transitions are required for oncogenic gene activation in Ewing sarcoma, may point to new opportunities for developing therapies for these diseases.
Rivera received an A.B. in molecular biology from Princeton University and an M.D. from Harvard Medical School. He completed his anatomic pathology residency at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and a fellowship in molecular diagnostics at the Harvard Combined Program. He was a postdoctoral research fellow at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center with Daniel Haber and also collaborated extensively with Brad Bernstein. Rivera’s honors and awards include a Career Award for Medical Scientists from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, an Early Career Physician-Scientist Award from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and a V Foundation V Scholar Award. He is the recipient of the Martin Prize for fundamental research at MGH.