Hasib Sabbagh Professor of Systems Biology
Mitchison Lab website
Faculty Assistant: Andrea Chen
The Mitchison group has long been interested in fundamental mechanisms by which cells use for physically organization and movement. Our main focus is on dynamic organization of the microtubule cytoskeleton, in particular during cell division. We use eggs of the frog Xenopus laevis as a model to study this problem and also as an example of an extremely large cell, where the scaling gap between molecular and cellular processes becomes extreme. We analyze microtubule-based organizing mechanisms by microscopy, image analysis and biochemistry, often taking advantage of egg extracts that reconstitute complex processes ex vivo. In the pharmacology area we are working on how microtubule- and mitosis-targeting drugs kill cancer cells, in particular how the important anti-cancer drug taxol works to promote tumor regression in man. We are also developing small molecules that activate tumor-resident macrophages by mimicking viral infection, and cause an innate immune attack of the cancer.
About Dr. Mitchison: Tim Mitchison, Ph.D. received his B.A. in Biochemistry from Oxford University, England, in 1980, and his PhD from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), in Biochemistry and Biophysics in 1984, where he worked with Professor Marc Kirschner. At this time he discovered the dynamic instability of microtubules. Later he worked at the National Institute for Medical Research in London. In 1987 he returned to San Francisco to become an Assistant Professor at UCSF. In 1997 he moved to the Cell Biology Department at Harvard Medical School where he co-founded the Institute for Chemistry and Cell Biology.
Dr. Mitchison was a founding member of the HMS Department of Systems Biology, which started in 2004. He is currently Deputy Chair of the department, and Co-director of the Systems Biology PhD Program. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1997, and member of the American Association of Arts and Sciences in 2008. In 2010 he served as President of the American Society of Cell Biology. And most recently in 2014 he became a member of the National Academy of Sciences.