Todd R. Golub, M.D.
Director, Founding Core Institute Member
Todd Golub is director of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, and a founding core member of the institute. He is also a member of the faculty of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School.
Golub is a world-renowned physician-scientist who pioneered the application of genomics to cancer biology and therapeutic discovery. He is one of the first researchers to use genomic approaches to molecularly characterize human tumors, laying the foundation for the use of genomics to classify, diagnose, and treat cancer. Throughout his career, Golub has advocated for the free, rapid sharing of large-scale genomic data and tools to accelerate the pace of biomedicine, and is deeply committed to patient-focused research.
Early in his career as a pediatric oncologist and cancer researcher, Golub made key discoveries on the genetic and molecular origins of the most common form of childhood leukemia, acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). These fundamental insights led to changes in treatment that are now the standard of care. This groundbreaking research stemmed from Golub’s dual role as a physician and scientist, and it helped crystallize his strongly held view that continually learning from patients—in an unbiased and systematic way—is the surest route to uncovering the root causes of disease and identifying novel, effective treatments.
Golub’s innovative use of gene-expression analysis to classify tumors catalyzed the creation of new genomic tools and approaches that have had a lasting impact on cancer research and drug discovery. Together with scientists from across Broad and partner institutions, Golub helped develop many of these tools, including analytical methods for studying genome-wide expression profiles of tumors, such as Gene Set Enrichment Analysis (GSEA). He led other large-scale projects, such as the Connectivity Map, which uses gene expression profiles to analyze cellular perturbation, with the aim of discovering relationships between cell states, gene function, and drug action.
Golub and his colleagues have also launched ambitious projects to characterize the biology of cancer cell lines, including molecular barcoding approaches that allow scientists to much more rapidly test drugs for anti-cancer potential across hundreds of cell lines simultaneously. This barcoding method, called PRISM, has also been used by the Golub lab to generate the Metastasis Map, which is revealing the mechanisms by which tumor cells spread and survive in different locations in the body. Golub has initiated a major effort at Broad, known as the Drug Repurposing Hub, to curate and characterize the biological effects of thousands of existing drugs—many already proven safe in humans—with the aim of uncovering novel uses, especially for cancer treatment.
Golub has mentored numerous trainees over the span of his career, empowering them and other young scientists to take risks and pursue bold ideas with extraordinary potential.
He joined the faculty of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School in 1997. At the same time, he served as the leader of cancer genomics at the Whitehead Institute/MIT Center for Genome Research. As a founding core member of the Broad Institute, Golub helped launch the organization in 2004 and established its Cancer Program. He served as director of Broad’s Cancer Program for 17 years, and helped create a nimble, entrepreneurial, and supportive scientific community where researchers at all career levels and from laboratories across the greater Boston area can pursue transformative ideas in cancer. He also served as the Broad’s chief scientific officer for a decade before being named the institute’s director in January 2021. In addition, he is currently the Charles A. Dana Investigator in Human Cancer Genetics at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. He was also an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute from 2002 to 2019.
Golub is the recipient of multiple awards, including the Erasmus Hematology Award, the Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Memorial Award, the Outstanding Achievement Award from the American Association for Cancer Research, the Paul Marks Prize for Cancer Research, the E. Mead Johnson Award from the Society for Pediatric Research, and the Judson Daland Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Clinical Investigation from the American Philosophical Society. In 2014, Golub was elected to the US National Academy of Medicine.
Golub has served on the scientific advisory boards of many organizations, including serving as chair of the advisory boards of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, and of the Board of Scientific Advisors of the National Cancer Institute.
Beyond his scientific work, Golub is a passionate supporter of the arts, including visual arts and music. He believes that art and science resonate with each other, both fueled by creativity. He launched the Broad’s Artist-in-Residence Program in 2006, which enables scientists and artists to work side-by-side, influencing and learning from each other in pursuit of innovation. He also serves on the Board of Trustees of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Golub received his B.A. from Carleton College and his M.D. from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. He completed his internship, residency, and fellowship training at Boston Children’s Hospital and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.