Graduate Studies Faculty

« Back to Search List

Michael S. Cohen, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Admin Unit: SOM-Physiology & Pharmacology Department
Phone: 503-418-1363
Office: BRB 621
Mail Code: L334
Neuroscience Graduate Program
Physiology & Pharmacology
Program in Molecular & Cellular Biosciences
Research Interests:
Chemistry, Cell Signaling, Chemical Biology, Neuroscience » Click here for more about Dr. Cohen's research
Preceptor Rotations
Dr. Cohen has not indicated availability for preceptor rotations at this time.
Faculty Mentorship
Dr. Cohen might be available as a mentor for 2016-2017.


The long-range goal of my research is to design and develop small molecule modulators of protein function that illuminate cellular processes relevant to human diseases. A current focus is signaling pathways mediated by ADP-ribosylation, a post-translational modification implicated in diverse cellular activities, including long-term potentiation, mitosis, DNA repair, and cell-cycle regulation; as well as a number of pathologies, including cancer and neurodegeneration. ADP-ribosylation was originally thought to be catalyzed by a single enzyme, PARP1, but a family of 17 proteins is now recognized in humans that shares structural homology to the PARP1 catalytic domain. Progress in understanding the functional roles of these family members has been severely limited, however, by the absence of specific chemical modulators that can be used to dissect their roles in cellular signal transduction. To overcome this limitation, we are combining the tools of Chemistry and Genetics to develop chemical probes that specifically inhibit their activity. We anticipate that these studies will yield new insights into the role of ADP-ribosylation in cellular signal transduction, and will illuminate important molecular targets for therapeutic intervention in a variety of human diseases.


Cohen, M.S., Ghosh, A.K., Kim, H.J., Jeon, N.L., and Jaffrey, S.R. “Chemical Genetic-Mediated Spatial Regulation of Protein Expression in Neurons Reveals an Axonal Function for WldS,” Chemistry and Biology, 19, 179 (2012).

Cohen, M.S., Bas Orth, C., Kim, H.J., Jeon, N.L., and Jaffrey, S.R. “Neurotrophin-mediated dendrite to nucleus signaling revealed by microfluidic compartmentalization of dendrites,”PNAS, 108, 11246 (2011).

Cohen, M.S., Hadjivassiliou, H., and Taunton, J.  “A Clickable inhibitor reveals Context-dependent RSK autoactivation,” Nature Chemical Biology, 3,156 (2007).

Cohen, M.S., Zhang, C., Shokat, K.M., and Taunton, J.  “Structural bioinformatics-based design of selective, irreversible kinase inhibitors,” Science, 308, 1318 (2005).