Michael F. Berger


Associate Director, Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis Center for Molecular Oncology

Michael F. Berger, PhD

About Me

I am Associate Director of the Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis Center for Molecular Oncology and an assistant attending geneticist in the Department of Pathology. I have expertise in cancer genetics, computational biology, and high-throughput DNA sequencing technology. My research is focused on developing and applying methods of profiling tumor DNA in order to characterize the genetic makeup of individual cancers. Knowledge of patient-specific genetic mutations can be used to predict outcomes and inform treatment options, ultimately enabling more personalized cancer medicine.

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With recent innovations in DNA sequencing technology, one can cheaply and quickly capture the relevant genomic information in an individual patient’s tumor. In collaboration with oncologists, pathologists, and other translational researchers, I am leveraging the extensive institutional collection of annotated tumor specimens spanning all cancer subtypes to identify novel, clinically useful biomarkers that may correlate with outcomes or predict responses to novel therapeutic agents. As a member of the Molecular Diagnostics Service, I helped lead the development of a robust molecular profiling platform and accompanying analysis pipeline for use in clinical trials and real-time patient management. Altogether, these activities aim to improve clinical practice by empowering oncologists to make treatment decisions informed by the molecular composition of their patients’ tumors.

  • Clinical Expertise: Genomics and Computational Biology
  • Languages Spoken: English
  • Education: PhD, Harvard University
  • Fellowships: The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard

My Research

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See Michael F. Berger’s laboratory
research at Memorial Sloan Kettering.

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ESR1 ligand-binding domain mutations in hormone-resistant breast cancer. Toy W, Shen Y, Won H, Green B, Sakr RA, Will M, Li Z, Gala K, Fanning S, King TA, Hudis C, Chen D, Taran T, Hortobagyi G, Greene G, Berger M, Baselga J, Chandarlapaty S. Nat Genet. 2013 Dec;45(12):1439-45. doi: 10.1038/ng.2822. Epub 2013 Nov 3.

Detecting somatic genetic alterations in tumor specimens by exon capture and massively parallel sequencing. Won HH, Scott SN, Brannon AR, Shah RH, Berger MF. J Vis Exp. 2013 Oct 18;(80):e50710. doi: 10.3791/50710.

Genome sequencing identifies a basis for everolimus sensitivity. Iyer G, Hanrahan AJ, Milowsky MI, Al-Ahmadie H, Scott SN, Janakiraman M, Pirun M, Sander C, Socci ND, Ostrovnaya I, Viale A, Heguy A, Peng L, Chan TA, Bochner B, Bajorin DF, Berger MF, Taylor BS, Solit DB. Science. 2012 Oct 12;338(6104):221. doi: 10.1126/science.1226344. Epub 2012 Aug 23.

Melanoma genome sequencing reveals frequent PREX2 mutations. Berger MF, Hodis E, Heffernan TP, Deribe YL, Lawrence MS, Protopopov A, Ivanova E, Watson IR, Nickerson E, Ghosh P, Zhang H, Zeid R, Ren X, Cibulskis K, Sivachenko AY, Wagle N, Sucker A, Sougnez C, Onofrio R, Ambrogio L, Auclair D, Fennell T, Carter SL, Drier Y, Stojanov P, Singer MA, Voet D, Jing R, Saksena G, Barretina J, Ramos AH, Pugh TJ, Stransky N, Parkin M, Winckler W, Mahan S, Ardlie K, Baldwin J, Wargo J, Schadendorf D, Meyerson M, Gabriel SB, Golub TR, Wagner SN, Lander ES, Getz G, Chin L, Garraway LA. Nature. 2012 May 9;485(7399):502-6. doi: 10.1038/nature11071.

High-throughput detection of actionable genomic alterations in clinical tumor samples by targeted, massively parallel sequencing. Wagle N1, Berger MF, Davis MJ, Blumenstiel B, Defelice M, Pochanard P, Ducar M, Van Hummelen P, Macconaill LE, Hahn WC, Meyerson M, Gabriel SB, Garraway LA.  Cancer Discov. 2012 Jan;2(1):82-93. doi: 10.1158/2159-8290.CD-11-0184. Epub 2011 Nov 7.

Dissecting therapeutic resistance to RAF inhibition in melanoma by tumor genomic profiling. Wagle N, Emery C, Berger MF, Davis MJ, Sawyer A, Pochanard P, Kehoe SM, Johannessen C, MacConaill LE, Hahn WC, Meyerson M, Garraway LA. J Clin Oncol. 2011 Mar 7. (Epub ahead of print).

The genomic complexity of primary human prostate cancer. Berger MF, Lawrence MS, Demichelis F, Drier Y, Cibulskis K, Sivachenko AY, Sboner A, Esgueva R, Pflueger D, SougnezC, Onofrio R, Carter SL, Park K, Habegger L, Ambrogio L, Fennell T, Parkin M, Saksena G, Voet D, Ramos AH, Pugh TJ, Wilkinson J, Fisher S, Winckler W, Mahan S, Ardlie K, Baldwin J, Simons JW, Kitabayashi N, MacDonald TY, Kantoff PW, Chin L, Gabriel SB, Gerstein MB, Golub TR, Meyerson M, Tewari A, Lander ES, Getz G, Rubin MA, Garraway LA. Nature. 2011 Feb 10;470(7333):214-20.

Integrative analysis of the melanoma transcriptome. Berger MF, Levin JZ, Vijayendran K, Sivachenko A, Adiconis X, Maguire J, Johnson LA, Robinson J, Verhaak RG, Sougnez C, Onofrio RC, Ziaugra L, Cibulskis K, Laine E, Barretina J, Winckler W, Fisher DE, Getz G, Meyerson M, Jaffe DB, Gabriel SB, Lander ES, Dummer R, Gnirke A, Nusbaum C, Garraway LA. Genome Research. 2010 Apr;20(4):413-27. Epub 2010 Feb 23.

Diversity and complexity in DNA recognition by transcription factors. Badis G, Berger MF, Philippakis AA, Talukder S, Gehrke AR, Jaeger SA, Chan ET, Metzler G, Vedenko A, Chen X, Kuznetsov H, Wang CF, Coburn D, Newburger DE, Morris Q, Hughes TR, Bulyk ML. Science. 2009 Jun 26;324(5935):1720-3. Epub 2009 May 14.

Variation in homeodomain DNA binding revealed by high-resolution analysis of sequence preferences. Berger MF, Badis G, Gehrke AR, Talukder S, Philippakis AA, Peña-Castillo L, Alleyne TM, Mnaimneh S, Botvinnik OB, Chan ET, Khalid F, Zhang W, Newburger D, Jaeger SA, Morris QD, Bulyk ML, Hughes TR. Cell. 2008 Jun 27;133(7):1266-76.

Compact, universal DNA microarrays to comprehensively determine transcription-factor binding site specificities. Berger MF, Philippakis AA, Qureshi AM, He FS, Estep PW 3rd, Bulyk ML. Nature Biotechnology. 2006 Nov;24(11):1429-35. Epub 2006 Sep 24.


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Clinical Trials

As home to one of the world’s top cancer research centers, Memorial Sloan Kettering is typically involved in more than 900 clinical trials at a given time. Currently, clinical trials focused on the conditions I treat are enrolling new patients. If you’re interested in joining a clinical trial, click to learn about the trial’s purpose, eligibility criteria, and how to get more information.

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