Joseph Rodriguez, Ph.D.


Epigenetics and Stem Cell Biology Laboratory / Single Cell Dynamics Group


D425 Rall Building
111 T W Alexander Dr
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709


Research Topics

We study how the environment influences expression heterogeneity in real time and how those impacts affect tissue composition. We also want to determine how different compounds affect heterogeneity and how they lead to disease.

The work is important because the current understanding of gene regulation is based on studies using bulk cells and ground up tissues. My group has found that individual cells, even of the same cell type, respond differently to upstream signals, which include the environment. Our recent research suggests that in diseases, such as cancer or the process of aging, cells express a lot of heterogeneity. Understanding the mechanisms of that heterogeneity at the single cell level is vital for figuring out what happens in 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 gene expression dynamics during circadian rhythm. 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.

This page was last updated on January 22nd, 2019