Erez Lieberman-Aiden

Harvard Society of Fellows & Visiting Faculty at Google

I describe Hi-C, a novel technology for probing the three-dimensional architecture of whole genomes by coupling proximity-based ligation with massively parallel sequencing. Working with collaborators at the Broad Institute and UMass Medical School, we used Hi-C to construct spatial proximity maps of the human genome at a resolution of 1Mb.


These maps confirm the presence of chromosome territories and the spatial proximity of small, gene-rich chromosomes.  We identified an additional level of genome organization that is characterized by the spatial segregation of open and closed chromatin to form two genome-wide compartments.  At the megabase scale, the chromatin conformation is consistent with a fractal globule, a knot-free conformation that enables maximally dense packing while preserving the ability to easily fold and unfold any genomic locus. The fractal globule is distinct from the more commonly used globular equilibrium model. Our results demonstrate the power of Hi-C to map the dynamic conformations of whole genomes.



Erez Lieberman Aiden is a fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows and Visiting Faculty at Google. His work integrates mathematical and physical theory with the invention of new technologies. He recently invented a method for three-dimensional genome sequencing; he subsequently led the team that, in 2009, reported the first three dimensional map of the human genome. Together with collaborator Jean-Baptiste Michel, he developed culturomics, a quantitative approach to the study of history and culture that relies on computational analysis of a significant fraction of the historical record. This work led to the creation of the Google Ngram Viewer, a supplemental website that was visited over a million times in the 24 hours after its launch. Erez's research has won numerous awards, including the 2010 Hertz Thesis Prize; recognition for one of the top 20 "Biotech Breakthroughs that will Change Medicine", by Popular Mechanics; the Lemelson-MIT prize for the best student inventor at MIT; the American Physical Society's Award for the Best Doctoral Dissertation in Biological Physics; and membership in Technology Review's 2009 TR35, recognizing the top 35 innovators under 35. His last three papers have all appeared on the cover of Nature and Science. His work has also been featured on the front page of the New York Times, the Boston Globe, and the Wall Street Journal.


B17 Upson Hall

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Refreshments at 3:45pm in the Upson 4th Floor Atrium


Computer Science


Fall 2011

How the genome folds