Michael S. Lawrence, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Pathology
Harvard Medical School
Center for Cancer Research
Massachusetts General Hospital
Charlestown Navy Yard
Boston, MA 02129

Research interests

Human genomes, somatic DNA alterations, statistical analysis of mutations and mutational processes, DNA damage and repair, genomics-informed personalized medicine for cancer prevention, diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment.
  • Studying the highly complex patterns of mutational heterogeneity present throughout all levels of large cancer sequencing datasets.
  • Developing the MutSig software suite for statistical identification of significantly mutated genes against a highly complex mutational background.
  • Extracting novel insights from mutational strand asymmetries in cancer genomes, revealing which DNA damage and repair processes are associated with transcription and which are associated with replication.

Professional experience

Harvard Medical School / Massachusetts General Hospital
          Assistant Professor2016—
Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT
          Group Leader, Computational Biology, Cancer Program2014—2016
          Computational Biologist, Cancer Program2008—2014
Harvard University
          Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Chemistry Dept.2005—2008


Ph.D., Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology2005
B.A., Biochemistry; Linguistics and Cognitive Science, Brandeis Univ.1998

Selected publications

Haradhvala N, Polak P, et al., Lawrence MS and Getz G (2015) "Pervasive mutational strand asymmetries in cancer genomes reveal footprints of DNA damage and repair," submitted.

Lawrence MS, Stojanov P, Mermel C, et al. (2014) "Discovery and saturation analysis of cancer genes across 21 tumour types," Nature 505:495-501.

Helman E, Lawrence MS, et al. (2014) "Somatic retrotransposition in human cancer revealed by whole-genome and exome sequencing," Genome Res 24:1053-63.

Polak P, Lawrence MS, et al. (2014) "Reduced local mutation density in regulatory DNA of cancer genomes is linked to DNA repair," Nature Biotech., 32:71-5.

Lawrence MS, Stojanov P, Polak P, et al. (2013) "Mutational heterogeneity in cancer and the search for new cancer-associated genes," Nature 499:214-8.

Roberts SA, Lawrence MS, et al. (2013) "An APOBEC cytidine deaminase mutagenesis pattern is widespread in human cancers," Nature Genet. 45:970-6.

Drier Y, Lawrence MS, et al. (2012) "Somatic rearrangements across cancer reveal classes of samples with distinct patterns of DNA breakage and rearrangement-induced hypermutability," Genome Res. 23:228-35.

Wang L, Lawrence MS, et al. (2011) "SF3B1 and other novel cancer genes in chronic lymphocytic leukemia," N. Engl. J. Med. 365:2497-506.

Bass AJ, Lawrence MS, et al. (2011) "Genomic sequencing of colorectal adenocarcinomas identifies a recurrent VTI1A-TCF7L2 fusion," Nature Genet. 43:964-8.

Berger MF, Lawrence MS, et al. (2011) "The genomic complexity of primary human prostate cancer," Nature 470:214-20.

Chapman MA, Lawrence MS, et al. (2011) "Initial genome sequencing and analysis of multiple myeloma," Nature 471:467-72.

Liu JM, Livny J, Lawrence MS, Kimball MD, et al. (2009) "Experimental discovery of sRNAs in Vibrio cholerae by direct cloning, 5S/tRNA depletion and parallel sequencing," Nucleic Acids Res 37:e46.

The Cancer Genome Atlas Research Network (2008) "Comprehensive genomic characterization defines human glioblastoma genes and core pathways," Nature 455:1061-8.

Lawrence MS, Phillips KJ and Liu DR (2007) "Supercharging proteins can impart unusual resilience," J Am Chem Soc 129:10110-2.

Lawrence MS and Bartel DP (2005) "New ligase-derived RNA polymerase ribozymes," RNA 11:1173-80.

Lawrence MS and Bartel DP (2003) "Processivity of ribozyme-catalyzed RNA polymerization," Biochemistry 42:8748-55.

Johnston WK, Unrau PJ, Lawrence MS, Glasner ME, et al. (2001) "RNA-catalyzed RNA polymerization: accurate and general RNA-templated primer extension," Science 292:1319-25.

Full list of publications


Cibulskis C, Getz G, Lawrence MS (2015) "Detecting variants in sequencing data and benchmarking."

Lawrence MS, Getz G (2014) "Systems and methods for identifying significantly mutated genes."

Meyerson M, Banerji S, Getz G, Cibulskis K, Lawrence MS, Miranda AH, Escareno CR, Toker A, Brown KK (2011) "Akt inhibitors for treating cancer expressing a MAGI3-AKT3 fusion gene."

Baselga J, Bass A, Cho J, Lawrence MS, Meyerson M, Tabernero J (2010) "Methods of predicting response to EGFR antibody therapy."

Liu DR, Phillips KJ, Lawrence MS (2007) "Protein surface remodeling."