Joseph Rodriguez, Ph.D.


Epigenetics and Stem Cell Biology Laboratory / Single Cell Dynamics Group


David P Rall Building
111 Tw Alexander Dr
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709


Research Topics

We study how the environment influences expression variability at the single cell level and subsequently how this variability influences cell fate decisions.

Our understanding of gene regulation is mostly based on studies which assay whole tissues and bulk cell lysates. My group is interested in understanding why genetically identical cells respond heterogenous to environmental stimuli. Recent research suggests that in diseases such as cancer or the process of aging, expression variability increases in tissue. Determining the factors and mechanisms that regulate this variability will help us understand the differences between normal and diseased states.


I graduated from MIT in 2001 and worked for six years performing bioinformatics analysis of human genome assembly. In 2007, I began work under the direction of Nobel Laureate Michael Rosbash, Ph.D., at Brandeis University, studying RNA processing and circadian gene expression dynamics. Those efforts led to shared authorship on eleven publications, including first author papers in Molecular Cell and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. After receiving my doctorate in 2012, Rodriguez joined the laboratory of Daniel Larson, Ph.D., at the National Cancer Institute and studied transcriptional regulation of estrogen responsive genes in single human cells. I joined NIEHS in 2018.

Selected Publications

  1. Ren G, Jin W, Cui K, Rodrigez J, Hu G, Zhang Z, Larson DR, Zhao K. CTCF-Mediated Enhancer-Promoter Interaction Is a Critical Regulator of Cell-to-Cell Variation of Gene Expression. Mol Cell. 2017;67(6):1049-1058.e6.
  2. Wan Y, Anastasakis DG, Rodriguez J, Palangat M, Gudla P, Zaki G, Tandon M, Pegoraro G, Chow CC, Hafner M, Larson DR. Dynamic imaging of nascent RNA reveals general principles of transcription dynamics and stochastic splice site selection. Cell. 2021;184(11):2878-2895.e20.
  3. Rodriguez J, Larson DR. Transcription in Living Cells: Molecular Mechanisms of Bursting. Annu Rev Biochem. 2020;89:189-212.
  4. Rodriguez J, Ren G, Day CR, Zhao K, Chow CC, Larson DR. Intrinsic Dynamics of a Human Gene Reveal the Basis of Expression Heterogeneity. Cell. 2019;176(1-2):213-226.e18.

Related Scientific Focus Areas

This page was last updated on Friday, January 17, 2020