Saeed Tavazoie

2008 Regional Award Finalist — Faculty

Saeed Tavazoie

Current Position:
Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics & Systems Biology

Columbia University

Genetics & Genomics

Recognized for:  Pioneering research in the areas of computational and systems biology

Areas of research interest and expertise: Biophysics, Molecular Biology, Genomics, Systems Biology, Computational Biology and Medicine


  • PhD, Biophysics, Harvard University
  • BS,  Physics, University of Utah

Saeed Tavazoie's research is focused on understanding how cells adapt to changes in their external environments through modulation of gene expression.

In his lab, Dr. Tavazoie and his team have used computational methods to decode the genomic elements that drive adaptive transcriptional responses. Their work has revealed the nuts and bolts of transcriptional and post-transcriptional reprogramming in terms of the identity and functional configurations of nucleic-acid regulatory elements that bind transcription-factors, microRNAs, and RNA-binding proteins. In recent work they have discovered a significant contribution to post-transcriptional reprogramming by small RNA-stem-loop elements and the RNA-binding proteins that recognize them. They have shown that these are regulators of specific pathways, including those subserving pathological processes such as tumor-invasion and metastasis. By utilizing theoretical, computational, and experimental approaches, work from his lab has revealed surprising new phenomena in cellular adaptation. For example, they have shown that much of cellular behavior in the laboratory cannot be explained by classic homeostasis and that cells often make short-term predictions about the future trajectory of their environments.

Saeed Tavazoie believes that biology thus far has been about the process of thoroughly describing organisms by breaking them down to their individual components and characterizing them in precise detail. It is the interaction of these components in the context of their systems that captivates his current research.

 “My scientific career has been shaped by the expectation that there are undiscovered organizing principles that underlie the operation and evolution of biological systems. My goal is to find those things. That’s what drives my research.”

Key Publications:

  1. Goodarzi H, Zhang S, Buss C G, Fish L, Tavazoie S, Tavazoie S.F. Metastasis-suppressor transcript destabilization through TARBP2 binding of mRNA hairpins.  Nature (in press)
  2. Goodarzi H, Najafabadi H S, Oikonomou P, Greco T M, Fish L, Salavati R., Cristea I M, Tavazoie S. Systematic discovery of structural elements governing stability of mammalian messenger RNAs. Nature 2012
  3. Tagkopoulos I, Liu Y, Tavazoie S.  Predictive behavior within microbial genetic networks. Science. 2008

Other Honors:

NIH Director’s Pioneer Award

In the Media:

On Being Thrown Out of the Box: An Interview with Saeed Tavazoie. Columbia Systems Biology. February 20, 2014