Thomas Jefferson University
Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center

Philadelphia, PA
Professor, Dept. of Pathology Anatomy and Cell Biology;
Professor, Dept. of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; Professor, Dept. of Cancer Biology.

Research Projects

Dr. Isidore Rigoutsos is an expert in combining computer modeling and cell- or molecular-based data to study problems from biology and medicine. One focus in his laboratory regard changes in tRNA fragments – which are fragments of RNA that do not code for proteins. He has developed a software platform called MINTmap, a tool that can identify human tRNA fragments from larger RNA molecules.

His expertise in these areas are profoundly synergistic with the expertise of Dr. Dan Welch in metastasis (the fatal spread of cancer). Data from Dr. Welch’s lab indicates two tRNA fragments in mouse models can potentially explain why some cancers are more or less efficient at metastasizing. Moreover, the tRNA fragments could also explain the racial disparities in cancer outcomes.

With NFCR support, the two labs are collaborating to better understand the tRNA fragments located in the special cell part called mitochondria and their effects on metastasis.

Since tRNA fragments can undergo many changes that affect their function, the scientists need to identify the changes and correlate them with metastatic functions in cells of lab mice. Dr. Rigoutsos will develop a MINTmap toolbox to classify the mice tRNA changes that will allow comparison with tRNAs classified in the MINTmap of human tRNAs.

The information generated will be readily available with user-friendly platforms to accelerate the discovery and characterization of tRNA fragments by other labs worldwide.
Importantly, this research may lead to new biomarkers that indicate whether a cancer patient is at high risk for metastasis. It may lead to development of new therapeutics to halt the development of metastasis and save more lives.


Dr. Isidore Rigoutsos is a Professor, Dept. of Pathology Anatomy and Cell Biology; Dept. of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; and Dept. of Cancer Biology at Sidney Kimmel
Medical College, Thomas Jefferson University (TJU) since 2010. He founded the Computational Medicine Center at TJU in 2010. He received his Ph.D. in computer science from New York University, NY in 1992. He co-founded the IBM Research’s Computational Biology Center in 1992 and led rational drug-design efforts and bioinformatics groups at IBM for 18 years prior to joining the faculty at JHU in 2010.

Dr. Rigoutsos holds twenty-seven US and two European patents in computations and in biology. He has published more than 130 papers.

Our approach emphasizes a collaborative, team environment to accelerate new breakthroughs.


Danny R. Welch, Ph.D.
University of Kansas Cancer Center

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