Howard Chang, M.D., Ph.D.

Howard Chang


Howard Y. Chang M.D., Ph.D. is Director of the Center for Personal Dynamic Regulomes and the Virginia and D.K. Ludwig Professor of Cancer Research at Stanford University. He is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator; he is also Professor of Dermatology and of Genetics at Stanford University School of Medicine. Chang earned a Ph.D. in Biology from MIT, M.D. from Harvard Medical School, and completed Dermatology residency and postdoctoral training at Stanford University. His research addresses how large sets of genes are turned on or off together, which is important in normal development, cancer, and aging. Chang discovered a new class of genes, termed long noncoding RNAs, can control gene activity throughout the genome, illuminating a new layer of biological regulation. He invented ATAC-seq and other new methods for defining DNA regulatory elements genome-wide and in single cells. The long term goal of his research is to decipher the regulatory information in the genome to benefit human health. 

Dr. Chang is a Member of the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Medicine, and American Academy for the Arts and Sciences. Dr. Chang’s honors include the NAS Award for Molecular Biology, Outstanding Investigator Award of the National Cancer Institute, Paul Marks Prize for Cancer Research, Judson Daland Prize of the American Philosophical Society, and the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise. His work was honored by the journal Cell as a Landmark paper over the last 40 years and by Science as “Insight of the decade”.


Genome Regulation by Long Noncoding RNAs

Howard Y. Chang, Stanford University School of Medicine

The discovery of extensive transcription of long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) provide an important new perspective on the centrality of RNA in gene regulation. I will discuss genome-scale strategies to discover and characterize lncRNAs, notably the impact of lncRNAs on gene memory over time.  LncRNAs form extensive networks of ribonucleoprotein (RNP) complexes with numerous chromatin regulators, and target these enzymatic activities to appropriate locations in the genome. Consistent with this notion, long noncoding RNAs can function as modular scaffolds to specify higher order organization in RNP complexes and in chromatin states. An emerging theme is the intersection between lncRNA biology and immunity. Self vs. foreign identity of lncRNA impacts innate and adaptive immunity. The importance of these modes of regulation is underscored by the newly recognized roles of long RNAs in human diseases.