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Andrew Paul Feinberg, M.D., M.P.H.

Photo of Dr. Andrew Paul Feinberg, M.D., M.P.H.

Bloomberg Distinguished Professor, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Whiting School of Engineering, and Bloomberg School of Public Health

Professor of Medicine

Languages: English, French

Expertise: Internal Medicine

Research Interests: Epigenetics in development and disease

Background

Andrew Feinberg studied mathematics and humanities at Yale in the Directed Studies honors program, and he received his B.A. (1973) and M.D. (1976) from the accelerated medical program at Johns Hopkins University, as well as an M.P.H. from Johns Hopkins (1981). He performed a postdoctoral fellowship in developmental biology at UCSD, clinical training in medicine at University of Pennsylvania, and genetics research and clinical training at Johns Hopkins.

Dr. Feinberg is considered the founder of the field of cancer epigenetics, having discovered altered DNA methylation in cancer in the early 1980’s with Bert Vogelstein. Over the decades since, Feinberg and his colleagues have shaped the landscape of our understanding of DNA methylation and other epigenetic changes, and their applications to epidemiology and medicine, and have introduced groundbreaking statistical and laboratory methods to the study of the epigenome. He and his colleagues discovered human imprinted genes and loss of imprinting (LOI) in cancer, and they proved the epigenetic hypothesis of cancer through their work on Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome.

Most recently, they pioneered genome-scale epigenetics (epigenomics), with the first NIH funded Epigenome Center, pioneering methods including the first comprehensive genome-scale methylation discovering the major target for epigenetic variation in humans, CpG island shores. He led the first whole genome bisulfite sequencing analysis of human cancer, discovering large hypomethylated blocks that correspond to nuclear lamina-associated heterochromatin, as well as a mechanism for disruption of these blocks in epithelial-mesenchymal transition. He has also helped to create the field of epigenetic epidemiology, discovering epigenetic mediation of genetic variants in disease. He has made several important theoretical contributions as well, including the epigenetic progenitor hypothesis of cancer and the role of entropy in epigenetic development and disease.

He is a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor in the Johns Hopkins University Schools of Medicine, Engineering and Public Health, where he is Director of the Center for Epigenetics. He is a recipient of an NIH Director’s Pioneer Award, is a member of the National Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Science, the NIH Council of Councils, and he has received honorary doctorates from the University of Uppsala, the Karolinska Institute, and the University of Amsterdam.

Feinberg Lab Website

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Titles

  • Bloomberg Distinguished Professor, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Whiting School of Engineering, and Bloomberg School of Public Health
  • King Fahd Professor of Medicine, Biomedical Engineering, Mental Health, Oncology, Biostatistics, Molecular Biology & Genetics, and Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences
  • Chief, Division of Molecular Medicine, Department of Medicine
  • Director, Center for Epigenetics, Institute for Basic Biomedical Sciences
  • Gilman Scholar, Johns Hopkins University
  • Professor of Medicine
  • Joint Appointment in Molecular Biology and Genetics
  • Joint Appointment in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
  • Professor of Oncology

Education

Degrees

  • MD, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (1976)

Fellowships

  • Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (1979)

Board Certifications

  • American Board of Internal Medicine / Internal Medicine (1984)
  • American Board of Medical Genetics and Genomics / Clinical Genetics / MD (1987)

Additional Training

B.A., Johns Hopkins University

M.D., Johns Hopkins University, 1976

M.P.H., Johns Hopkins University, 1981

Residency, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (Baltimore MD ) (1976)

Research & Publications

Research Summary

Our laboratory is studying the epigenetic basis of normal development and disease, including cancer, aging, and neuropsychiatric illness. Early work from our group involved the discovery of altered DNA methylation in cancer, as well as common epigenetic (methylation and imprinting) variants in the population that may be responsible for a significant population-attributable risk of cancer.

Over the last few years, our laboratory has pioneered the field of epigenomics, i.e. epigenetics at a genome-scale level, founding the first NIH-supported NIH epigenome center in the country, and developing many novel tools for molecular and statistical analysis. Several discoveries and avenues of research have arisen from our epigenome center: CpG islands "shores," that drive many of the gene expression differences that distinguish normal tissues from each other and from cancer; the first map of the methylome in normal hematopoietic development, as well as in induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) reprogramming, discovering that iPSC retain an epigenetic memory of their cell of origin. 

Some of the projects we’re working on include:

  • What are the epigenetic drivers of cancer progression? We are determining how mutations in epigenetic modifier genes alter the epigenetic landscape in normal development and cancer, and increase epigenetic plasticity and tumor cell survival.
  • Can epigenetic alterations in cancer be reversed using novel approaches targeted to large blocks of heterochromatin and/or metabolism?
  • What are the epigenetic drivers of neuropsychiatric disease and how are they related to brain-region specific developmental epigenetic marks?
  • What is the relationship between common DNA sequence variants and tissue-specific epigenetic marks in normal development and disease?
  • How do genome and environment interact to cause disease, and how is this mediated by the epigenome? We are attacking head-on the mechanisms through which environment influences gene function, or “GxE”, focusing on extremely important and contemporary exposures highly relevant to human health: diet, environmental toxicants and their relationship to metabolic disorders and cancer.
  • What is the mathematical foundation of epigenetic information? We are pursuing our novel idea that genetic variants that control phenotypic variance confer a selective advantage in evolution in an environment that changes, and that the same idea may explain phenotypic plasticity in cancer evolution, with the “hallmarks” of cancer being selected for at the expense of the host. 

Lab Website: Andrew Feinberg Laboratory

Selected Publications

View all on Pubmed

McDonald OG, Li X, Saunders T, Tryggvadottir R, Mentch SJ, Warmoes MO, Word AE, Carrer A, Salz TH, Natsume S, Stauffer KM, Makohon-Moore A, Zhong Y, Wu H, Wellen KE, Locasale JW, Iacobuzio- Donahue C, Feinberg AP. Large-scale epigenomic reprogramming links anabolic glucose metabolism to distant metastasis during the evolution of pancreatic cancer progression. Nature Genetics. 2017; 49:367- 376.

Jenkinson G, Pujadas E, Goutsias J, Feinberg AP. Potential energy landscapes identify the information-theoretic nature of the epigenome. Nature Genetics. 2017; 49:719-729.

Vanaja KG, Timp W, Feinberg AP*, Levchenko A* (co-corresponding author). A loss of epigenetic control can promote cell death through reversing the balance of pathways in a signaling network. Molecular Cell 72:60-70, 2018

Feinberg AP. The key role of epigenetics in human disease prevention and mitigation. New England Journal of Medicine 378:1323-1334, 2018.

Rizzardi LF, Hickey PF, Rodriguez DiBlasi V, Tryggvadóttir R, Callahan CM, Idrizi A, Hansen KD, Feinberg AP. Neuronal brain region-specific DNA methylation and chromatin accessibility are associated with neuropsychiatric disease heritability. Nature Neuroscience 22:307-316, 2019.

Contact for Research Inquiries

Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Center for Epigenetics
855 North Wolfe Street
Baltimore, MD 21205 map
Phone: 410-614-3489

Email me

Academic Affiliations & Courses

Graduate Program Affiliation

Preceptor, Predoctoral Program in Cellular and Molecular Medicine, Predoctoral Program in Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology Director, Predoctoral Program in Human Genetics, Predoctoral Program in Biomedical Engineering

Activities & Honors

Honors

  • Elected Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2009
  • Elected Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2011
  • Elected Member, National Academy of Medicine, 2007
  • General Honors, Johns Hopkins University, 1973
  • President's Diversity Recognition Award, Johns Hopkins University, 2007
  • Doctor of Medicine (Honoris Causa), Karolinska Institutet, 2010
  • ISI, Most Cited Authors List (Top 0.1%), 2001
  • MERIT Award, National Cancer Institute, 2001
  • Delta Omega, National Public Health Honorary Society, 1981
  • Jacob and Marcus Wallenberg Fellow, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, 2009
  • Baruch Spinoza Chair, University of Amsterdam, 2012 - 2013
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Honoris Causa), Uppsala University, 2007
  • Research Award, Johns Hopkins Medical Society, 1976
  • Award for Postdoctoral Investigation, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, 1983
  • American Society for Clinical Investigation, 1990
  • Association of American Physicians, 1995
  • Feodor Lynen Medal, 2011
  • Inaugural Daniel Coit Gilman Scholar of Johns Hopkins University, 2011
  • NIH Director's Pioneer Award, 2011
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Honoris Causa), University of Amsterdam, 2016
  • Award for Excellence, Association for Molecular Pathology, 2017

Professional Activities

  • Associate Editor, Cancer Research, 1996
  • Associate Editor, American Journal of Human Genetics, 1997
  • Charter Member, NIH Cancer Genetics Study Section, 2003
  • Editorial Board, Cancer Cell, 2005
  • Editorial Board, Genome Research, 2005
  • Editorial Board, Epigenetics and Chromatin, 2008
  • College of CSR Reviewers (senior trans-NIH grant review board), NIH, 2009
  • Co-Chair, Wellcome Trust Symposia on Epigenomics of Common Human Disease, 2010
  • Member, National Advisory Council on Environmental Health Sciences, NIH, 2014
  • Member, NIH Council of Councils, 2019

Videos & Media

Epigenetic Maps

Dr. Feinberg on epigenetics and epigenetic maps.

Recent News Articles and Media Coverage

Study Finds How Genes That Cause Illness Work, The New York Times

A Thing or Two About Twins, National Geographic

Bee Study Lifts Lid on Hive Habits, The Guardian

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