Kivanç Birsoy, Ph.D.


Kivanç Birsoy, Ph.D.
Chapman-Perelman Associate Professor
Laboratory of Metabolic Regulation and Genetics
The Rockefeller University
1230 York Ave., Box 225
City, State, ZIP
New York, NY 10065
(212) 960-3516
[email protected]
Research field
Cancer Biology
Award year
Pew distinction
Innovation Fund investigator


The Birsoy lab studies metabolic changes that occur in cancer cells during tumor formation and metastasis. Metastasis, or the spread of cancer cells to other organs, is the primary cause of death from solid cancers. The process by which cancer cells spread, however, is rather inefficient, and only a small portion of circulating tumor cells have the ability to grow in a new organ. Colonization of distant organs requires the tumor cells to rewire themselves to cope with an environment that is very different from the site of the original tumor. My lab will study the impact that different organ environments—such as the lung, brain, or liver—have on the colonization of cancer cells. Using a combination of cutting-edge metabolomic and genetic technologies, we will define how cancer cells use their metabolic pathways throughout stages of cancer progression and will identify the metabolic processes critical for cancer cells to grow and colonize secondary sites. Research from our group could provide new insight into cellular pathways that contribute to cancer cell spread and inform the development of new anti-cancer therapies.

As an Innovation Fund investigator, Kivanç Birsoy, Ph.D., is teaming up with Donita Brady, Ph.D., to identify components in cells that regulate transition metal homeostasis or those that respond to them. Transition metals are key dietary nutrients for living organisms and help proteins function across a variety of cellular activities such as metabolism. Disrupting the processes that ensure proper metal acquisition, storage, and location is associated with disease. The pair will combine expertise from Brady’s work in metallobiology and chemical biology with Birsoy’s research in metabolism and organelle biology to map metal-protein interactions across compartments of the cell and to categorize previously unidentified metabolic pathways that adapt to fluctuations in metal availability. This work will enhance our current understanding of cellular regulation of metals, which is critical in maintaining the delicate balance between metal deficiency and toxicity, preventing disease associated with either extreme.

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