Jonathan Weissman, PhD

Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology
+1 415 502-7642

Jonathan Weissman is looking at how cells ensure that proteins fold into their correct shape, as well as the role of protein misfolding in disease and normal physiology. He is also developing experimental and analytical approaches for exploring the organizational principles of biological systems and globally monitoring protein translation through ribosome profiling.

To ensure proper folding, cells have evolved a sophisticated and essential machinery of proteins called molecular chaperones that assist the folding of newly made polypeptides. The importance of proper protein folding is underscored by the fact that a number of diseases, including Alzheimer's and those involving infectious proteins (prions), result from protein-misfolding events. My research focuses on identifying and understanding the machinery necessary for efficient folding, as well as studying the mechanism and consequences of protein misfolding. We are also developing experimental and analytical approaches for exploring the organizational principles of complex biological systems and for monitoring protein translation in vivo with unprecedented precision and depth.

The ability to bridge large-scale approaches and mechanistic investigations is a key focus of my lab. Beyond the immediate payoff of these efforts, I hope our work will contribute to the broader goal of developing more principled, less ad hoc approaches for defining gene functions.

Primary Thematic Area: 
Cancer Biology & Cell Signaling
Secondary Thematic Area: 
Research Summary: 
Prion-Based Inheritance, Protein Folding/Misfolding, and Analysis of Cellular Systems



CAT-tailing as a fail-safe mechanism for efficient degradation of stalled nascent polypeptides.

Science (New York, N.Y.)

Kostova KK, Hickey KL, Osuna BA, Hussmann JA, Frost A, Weinberg DE, Weissman JS

Suppression of B-cell development genes is key to glucocorticoid efficacy in treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia.


Kruth KA, Fang M, Shelton DN, Abu-Halawa O, Mahling R, Yang H, Weissman JS, Loh ML, Müschen M, Tasian SK, Bassik MC, Kampmann M, Pufall MA

Operon mRNAs are organized into ORF-centric structures that predict translation efficiency.


Burkhardt DH, Rouskin S, Zhang Y, Li GW, Weissman JS, Gross CA

Translation from unconventional 5' start sites drives tumour initiation.


Sendoel A, Dunn JG, Rodriguez EH, Naik S, Gomez NC, Hurwitz B, Levorse J, Dill BD, Schramek D, Molina H, Weissman JS, Fuchs E