Rafael received a Ph.D. in Molecular Immunology from the Rockefeller University in 2002, where he worked in the laboratory of Michel Nussenzweig. From 2002 to 2003, he did postdoctoral training with David Baltimore at the California Institute of Technology. In December 2003, Dr. Casellas moved to the NIAMS where he is currently a senior investigator and head of the Laboratory of Molecular Immunogenetics. Dr. Casellas is also serving as an adjunct investigator at the Center for Cancer Research, NCI.

Research Statement

Our main goal is to unravel the nuclear events that drive peripheral activation of B lymphocytes. From genome-wide changes in epigenetics, chromatin architecture, and transcriptional activation, to recombination and hypermutation of antibody genes. Another major interest is to understand how deregulation of these mechanisms leads to B cell tumorigenesis. To achieve these goals, our team combines a wide range of cutting-edge technologies, including genome editing, nanoscopy, in situ Hi-C, cryo-EM, and bioinformatic tools.

Scientific Publications

Cohesin Loss Eliminates All Loop Domains.

Rao SSP, Huang SC, Glenn St Hilaire B, Engreitz JM, Perez EM, Kieffer-Kwon KR, Sanborn AL, Johnstone SE, Bascom GD, Bochkov ID, Huang X, Shamim MS, Shin J, Turner D, Ye Z, Omer AD, Robinson JT, Schlick T, Bernstein BE, Casellas R, Lander ES, Aiden EL
2017 Oct 5;
doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2017.09.026
PMID: 28985562

The 4D nucleome project.

Dekker J, Belmont AS, Guttman M, Leshyk VO, Lis JT, Lomvardas S, Mirny LA, O'Shea CC, Park PJ, Ren B, Politz JCR, Shendure J, Zhong S, 4D Nucleome Network.
2017 Sep 13;
doi: 10.1038/nature23884
PMID: 28905911

Myc Regulates Chromatin Decompaction and Nuclear Architecture during B Cell Activation.

Kieffer-Kwon KR, Nimura K, Rao SSP, Xu J, Jung S, Pekowska A, Dose M, Stevens E, Mathe E, Dong P, Huang SC, Ricci MA, Baranello L, Zheng Y, Tomassoni Ardori F, Resch W, Stavreva D, Nelson S, McAndrew M, Casellas A, Finn E, Gregory C, St Hilaire BG, Johnson SM, Dubois W, Cosma MP, Batchelor E, Levens D, Phair RD, Misteli T, Tessarollo L, Hager G, Lakadamyali M, Liu Z, Floer M, Shroff H, Aiden EL, Casellas R
Molecular cell.
2017 Aug 17;
doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2017.07.013
PMID: 28803781

Genome Organization Drives Chromosome Fragility.

Canela A, Maman Y, Jung S, Wong N, Callen E, Day A, Kieffer-Kwon KR, Pekowska A, Zhang H, Rao SSP, Huang SC, Mckinnon PJ, Aplan PD, Pommier Y, Aiden EL, Casellas R, Nussenzweig A
2017 Jul 27;
doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2017.06.034
PMID: 28735753

Mutations, kataegis and translocations in B cells: understanding AID promiscuous activity.

Casellas R, Basu U, Yewdell WT, Chaudhuri J, Robbiani DF, Di Noia JM
Nature reviews. Immunology.
2016 Mar;
doi: 10.1038/nri.2016.2
PMID: 26898111

Somatic Rearrangement in B Cells: It's (Mostly) Nuclear Physics.

Aiden EL, Casellas R
2015 Aug 13;
doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2015.07.034
PMID: 26276627
Last Updated: June 2020