Stephen B. Baylin, M.D.

Headshot of Stephen B. Baylin
  • Virginia and D.K. Ludwig Professor for Cancer Research Professor of Oncology and Medicine
  • Professor of Oncology

Research Interests



Stephen B. Baylin, M.D., is Virginia and D.K. Ludwig Professor of Oncology and Medicine, Co-Director of the Cancer Biology Division and Associate Director for Research Programs of The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins. 

Dr. Baylin attended Duke University, where he earned his medical degree in 1968 and completed his internship and first year residency in internal medicine. He then worked for two years at the National Heart and Lung Institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In 1971, Dr. Baylin joined the departments of oncology and medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

His research interests include cellular biology and genetics of cancer, specifically epigenetics or genetic modifications other than those in DNA that can affect cell behavior, and silencing of tumor suppressor genes and tumor progression. His research has looked at the mechanisms through which variations in tumor cells derive, and cell differentiation in cancers such as medullary thyroid carcinoma and small cell lung carcinoma.

Dr. Baylin’s honors include the 2004 National Investigator of the Year Award from the NCI SPORE program; the 2005 Jack Gibson Visiting Professorship, University of Hong Kong Queen Mary Hospital, Hong Kong; the 2005 Shubitz Cancer Research Prize from the University of Chicago; the 2008 Raffaele Tecce Memorial Lecture, Rome, Italy; the 2008 David Workman Memorial Award from the Waxman Foundation; the 2009 Kirk A. Landon-AACR Prize for Basic and Translational Cancer Research (jointly with Peter A. Jones, Ph.D.); the 2010 14th NCI Alfred G. Knudson Award in Cancer Genetics and the 2011 American Cancer  Society’s Medal of Honor Award (jointly with Peter A. Jones, Ph.D.) and most recently the Fellows of The American Association of Cancer Research  – Academy Class of 2014. 

Dr. Baylin has served on the American Association for Cancer Research Board of Directors from 2004 through 2007, and is an associate editor of Cancer Research. He has also presented frequently at AACR conferences and chaired the special conference on “DNA Methylation, Imprinting and the Epigenetics of Cancer.” Dr. Baylin has authored or co-authored more than 400 publications.

In April 2017 Dr. Baylin was elected to the Association of American Physicians. more


  • Virginia and D.K. Ludwig Professor for Cancer Research Professor of Oncology and Medicine
  • Co-Director of Cancer Genetics and Epigenetics
  • Professor of Oncology
  • Professor of Medicine

Departments / Divisions

Centers & Institutes

Research & Publications

Research Summary

Our research has contributed heavily to the concept that epigenetically mediated loss of gene function is a major player in the progression of human cancer. This process, for which aberrant gene promoter hypermethylation is a signature and a component of aberrant loss of transcription for involved genes, is now known to be an alternative to coding region mutations for loss of function of more than half the classic tumor suppressor genes and for a growing list of candidate tumor suppressor genes in virtually every type of human cancer. We are attempting to understand the abnormalities of chromatin and methylation assembly that may account for the appearance of these epigenetic abnormalities during tumor development and how they mediate the transcriptional repression. We are learning, in this regard, that an interaction between the DNA methylation, histone de-acetylase (HDAC) and histone methylating enzymes mediates the transcriptional silencing. We have also discovered that the enzymes that catalyze DNA methylation, the DNA methyltransferases (DNMTs), are more complex than previously thought and can both inhibit transcription and interact with HDACs, independent of mediating the methylation. In collaboration with the Vogelstein-Kinzler lab, we have identified that an interaction between DNMTs is required in colon cancer cells to maintain the abnormal promoter methylation and silencing of important tumor suppressor genes. All of these studies are giving us a much more complete picture of the machinery that mediates aberrant promoter methylation in cancer. They also are contributing to the translational goal of targeting reversal of abnormal gene silencing as a cancer prevention and/or therapy strategy.

Selected Publications

View all on PubMed

Chiappinelli KB, Strissel PL, Desrichard A, Li H, Henke C, Akman B, Hein A, Rote NS, Cope LM, Snyder A, Makarov V, Buhu S, Slamon DJ, Wolchok JD, Pardoll DM, Beckmann MW, Zahnow CA, Mergoub T, Chan TA, Baylin SB, Strick R. Inhibiting DNA methylation causes an interferon response in cancer via dsRNA including endogenous retroviruses. Cell 162, 974–986 2015

Xia L, Huang W, Bellani M, Seidman MM, Wu K, Fan D, Nie Y, Cai Y, Zhang YW, Yu L, Li H, Zahnow CA, Xie W, Yen R-WC, Rassool FV, Baylin SB. CHD4 Has Oncogenic Functions In Initiating And Maintaining Epigenetic Suppression of Multiple Tumor Suppressor Genes. Cancer Cell. 2017 May 8;31(5):653-668.e7

Vaz M, Hwang SY, Kagiampakis I, Patil A, Phallen J, O'Hagan HM, Murphy L, Zahnow CA, Gabrielson E, Velculescu VE, Easwaran HP, Baylin SB. Chronic Cigarette Smoke-Induced Epigenomic Changes Precede Sensitization of Human Bronchial Epithelial Cells to Single Step Transformation by KRAS Mutations. Cancer Cell. 2017 Sep 11;32(3):360-376

Xie W, Kagiampakis I, Pan L, Zhang YW, Murphy L, Tao Y, Kong X, Kang BH, Xia L, Carvalho F, Sen S, Yen R-W C, Zahnow CA, Ahuja N, Baylin SB, Easwaran H. DNA methylation patterns separate senescence from transformation potential and indicate cancer risk. In Press Cancer Cell, 2017. PMCD: 5813821

Topper MJ, Vaz M, Chiappinelli KB, DeStefano Shields C, Wenzel A, Hicks J, Ballew M, Stone M, Tran PT, Zahnow CA, Hellmann MD, Strissel PL, Strick R, Baylin SB. A combination epigenetic therapy ties blocking MYC to reversing immune evasion and treating lung cancer. Cell. 2017 Nov 30;171(6):1284-1300.e21. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2017.10.022. PMCID: 5808406

Activities & Honors


  • Simon M. Shubitz Cancer Prize and Lectureship, 2005
  • Fellows of The American Association of Cancer Research - Academy Class of 2014
  • Electee, Association of American Physicians, 2017
  • elected National Academy of Science, 2017

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