David E. Housman, PhD

David E. Housman

Professor of Biology

Virginia & D.K. Ludwig Scholar for Cancer Research

Contact Information

david e. housman


(617) 253-3013

housman Lab

(617) 253-3020

(617) 253-5202


Administrative support

Elizabeth Galoyan

(617) 253-3016

Research Areas

Precision medicine

Professor Housman studies the biological underpinnings of Huntington’s disease, cancer, and cardiovascular disease, to develop effective strategies for intervention.

Research Summary

The Housman Laboratory uses genetic approaches to identify the mechanistic bases of human disease pathology to develop effective strategies for intervention. We focus on trinucleotide repeat disorders, particularly Huntington's and cardiovascular diseases and cancer. In the field of cancer, we analyze genetic alterations in germline DNA or in specific tumors to identify pathways of particular significance to tumorigenesis.

Our laboratory has been very active in the study of the WT1 tumor suppressor gene, demonstrating its key role in the development of Wilms tumors, a childhood cancer of the kidney. We are also exploring the impact of reduced function of WT1 in both normal and leukemic cells to understand more about its usefulness as a marker and target in therapy for leukemia. In glioblastoma, we are exploring the mechanisms by which the receptor tyrosine kinase c-Ros causes cell transformation when localized to the Golgi apparatus. Finally, in melanoma, we are identifying genes which contribute to the development of melanoma through studies of loss of heterozygosity in tumors and the mapping of modifier genes which accelerate or retard tumorigenesis in mouse models.


David Housman is a professor of biology at MIT. He received both his BA and PhD from Brandeis University in 1966 and 1971, respectively. Housman received the MIT Science Council Teaching Prize in 1992 and has been honored with the National Biotechnology Award from the National Conference on Biotechnology Ventures. He has also been Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science since 1988 and the American Academy of Microbiology since 1994. Housman is a member of both the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. Housman is a co-founder of Genzyme Genetics and former Somatix Therapy Corp; co-founded Kenna Technologies in 2000 and serves as its Adviser; and founded Integrated Genetics in 1980, which was acquired by Genzyme in 1989. He has served as Chairman, Scientific Founder, and Principal Scientific Advisor of Variagenics Inc. since 1993.

See list of publications