Photo of Michael S. Cohen, Ph.D.

Michael S. Cohen Ph.D.

  •      (503) 418-1363
    • Associate Professor of Physiology and Pharmacology School of Medicine
    • Neuroscience Graduate Program School of Medicine
    • Program in Molecular and Cellular Biosciences School of Medicine
    • M.D./Ph.D. Program Committee School of Medicine

The overarching goal of the lab is to understand the function of ADP-ribosylation in physiology and disease. ADP-ribosylation is a reversible posttranslational modification that is essential for cellular function, yet little information exists regarding relevant protein substrates and target specificity. ADP-ribosylation is catalyzed by a family of 17 enzymes in humans known as poly-ADP-ribose-polymerases (PARP1-16 in humans; also known as ARTDs), which transfer the ADP-ribose moiety from nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) to amino acids on target proteins. The PARP family is sub-classified based on the ability of the individual PARP enzymes to catalyze the transfer of a single ADP-ribose unit (mono-ADP-ribosylation or MARylation; PARP3, 4, 6-8, 10-12, 14-16) or multiple ADP-ribose units (poly-ADP-ribosylation or PARylation; PARP1, 2, 4, 5a, 5b) onto target proteins. Progress in understanding the specific role of a given PARP in cells has been severely limited by (i) the inability to identify the direct targets for individual PARPs in a cellular context and (ii) the lack of selective inhibitors for individual PARP family members. Our lab has developed chemistry-based strategies to address these challenges. Additionally, we have used more conventional methods to uncover new roles for PARPs in neurodevelopment. Lastly, we are generally interested in NAD+ homeostasis, and how fluctuations in NAD+ levels regulate redox as well as NAD+-dependent signaling. To investigate NAD+ dynamics in cells, we developed the first genetically encoded biosensor for quantifying NAD+ levels in cells. 


  • B.S., University of California, Irvine 2000
  • Ph.D., University of California, San Francisco 2006
  • Fellowship:

    • 2006-11 LSRF Postdoctoral Fellow Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY

Honors and awards

  • 2015 Pew Biomedical Scholar

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