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World-Renowned Biochemist Joins Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center

Dr. Danny Reinberg is currently the only Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator in Florida.

A photo of Danny Reinberg, Ph.D.
Danny Reinberg, Ph.D.

One of the world’s foremost biochemists is joining Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, bringing decades of groundbreaking research in genetics, epigenetics and cellular processes.

Danny Reinberg, Ph.D., a biochemistry and molecular mechanisms expert, is currently the only Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Investigator in Florida — a prestigious designation that indicates the powerful impact of his studies. He will also be the associate director of faculty training and recruitment at Sylvester, associate director of faculty training and recruitment at Miller School of Medicine and a distinguished professor at the Miller School.

“Dr. Danny Reinberg is one of the most accomplished biomedical scientists in the world. He was identified early in his career as a productive and creative scientist by HHMI, and has received longstanding support as an HHMI Investigator that has enabled him to make numerous scientific discoveries in the field of epigenetics over the years,” said Stephen Nimer, M.D., director of Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, Oscar de la Renta Endowed Chair in Cancer Research and executive dean for research at the Miller School. “An icon in his field, he brings tremendous energy, expertise and commitment to Sylvester and the Department of Human Genetics that will further elevate our cancer research and its impact on our community. Dr. Reinberg is also committed to helping us bring the brightest and most diverse students and trainees to our institution and creating an environment of collaboration that will guide our junior faculty as well.”

For 28 years, Dr. Reinberg’s scientific research has been supported by HHMI. As an HHMI Investigator, he is among an elite group of 260 scientists and only 58 U.S. research institutions who tackle difficult research questions that may take years to answer. In addition to conducting original research, HHMI Investigators also direct laboratory research teams, mentor and train the next generation of scientists and teach and play leadership roles at their host institutions.

Joining Sylvester after 17 years at New York University Langone School of Medicine, Dr. Reinberg is looking forward to the next chapter in his stellar career.

“I am excited about bringing my research to Miami and expanding my laboratory team,” he said. “As South Florida’s only National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated cancer center, Sylvester has a strong foundation in place for future scientific discoveries. One of my goals is to bring other outstanding scientists to Sylvester, attract more students and post-doctoral trainees from Latin America, the Caribbean and Europe and build the pipeline of new cancer researchers.”

A Distinguished Career

Dr. Reinberg is a lauded biochemist whose groundbreaking work has significantly advanced understanding of fundamental biological processes, such as the expression of genes that “turn on” or “turn off” basic cellular processes.

“Cancer is a combination of genetic mutations and epigenetic changes that arise in cells in response to their environment,” he said. “I want to understand the mechanisms driving those disease processes so that they can be fixed.”

In a career spanning more than four decades, Dr. Reinberg has written or co-authored more than 300 scientific papers and presentations. He has collaborated with Dr. Nimer on several studies, and is currently working with Ramin Shiekhattar, Ph.D., professor of human genetics and biochemistry, co-leader of Sylvester’s Cancer Epigenetics Research Program and chief of the Division of Cancer Genomics and Epigenetics.

“We are delighted to welcome Dr. Danny Reinberg as a faculty member in the Department of Human Genetics,” said Mustafa Tekin, M.D., professor of human genetics and interim chair, Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation Department of Human Genetics. “Dr. Reinberg’s extensive experience and exceptional research background in genetics and epigenetics make him an invaluable asset to our highly collaborative team. His expertise will undoubtedly contribute to significant advancements in our understanding of the intricate relationship between genes and the environment, particularly in the context of cancer and other human disorders.”

A Passion for Science

Born in Santiago, Chile, in 1954, Dr. Reinberg grew up with a passion for scientific exploration. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree from the Catholic University in Valparaiso, Chile, in 1976, and worked as a research associate until coming to the U.S. in 1978 to attend the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. He became a graduate student under the mentorship of Dr. Jerard Hurwitz in the Department of Biology and Cancer, earning his doctoral degree in 1982.

After a research fellowship at The Rockefeller University in New York, Dr. Reinberg joined Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey, where he served as a distinguished university professor while being chosen as an HHMI Investigator in 1994. Twelve years later, he moved his research efforts to NYU Langone School of Medicine.

In recognition of his many contributions to biochemistry, Dr. Reinberg was elected a fellow of the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Science and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is also a member of the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences, and was recently honored with the 2022 Research.com Best Scientist Award.

Dr. Reinberg also is the recipient of the International Blaise Pascal Chair award to the Institut Curie-Centre de Recherche Université Paris, France — a distinction that places him in the company of Nobel Prize laureates in various disciplines such as economics, chemistry and physics, as well as leading researchers in linguistics and mathematics.

Tags: Cancer Epigenetics Research Program, Dr. Danny Reinberg, Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation Department of Human Genetics, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center