Samuel Bakhoum

2018 Regional Award Finalist — Post-Doc

Samuel Bakhoum

Current Position:
Assistant Member (Professor)

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (previously, Weill Cornell Medicine)

Cancer Biology and Radiation Oncology

Recognized for: Discovering the mechanistic link between chromosomal instability in cancer cells, a hallmark of solid tumors, and inflammation-mediated metastasis, or spread, of cancer.

Areas of Research Interest and Expertise:

Chromosomal instability, Tumor Evolution, Cancer metastasis, Tumor immunology, Cell division

Samuel Bakhoum


PhD, Dartmouth College
Internship, Harvard Medical School
Residency, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
MD, Dartmouth College
BS, Simon Frasier University, Canada

While chromosomal instability was already a recognized hallmark of solid tumors, its role in cancer development and progression was not known. Physician-scientist Dr. Samuel Bakhoum discovered a mechanistic link between chromosomal instability in cancer cells and inflammation-mediated metastasis, or spread. Specifically, Dr. Bakhoum found that chromosomal instability fueled the development of rupture-prone micronuclei in cancer cells. These small packages of DNA are formed when chromosomal instability causes a fragment of a chromosome to not be incorporated into the nucleus during cell division; but if the micronuclei burst, the DNA inside spills into the cytosol, leading to inflammation and induction of an anti-viral innate immune response. The cancer cells co-opt this response, as it makes it easier for them to spread to distant organs. This novel insight into an intrinsic property of cancer increases our basic understanding of cancer biology and opens up the possibility of novel therapeutic strategies to target inflammation and metastasis.

"In life, what we know is eclipsed by what we do not know. A large part of our ability to discover the universe around us, whether it is big as a galaxy or small as a cell, hinges on our openness to make new connections between fields that were hitherto unrelated. To achieve this we must allow our brains to wander somewhat unburdened and ready to be surprised."

Key Publications:

  1. S.F. Bakhoum, B. Ngo, A.M. Laughney, J.A. Cavallo, C.J. Murphy, P. Ly, P. Shah, R.K. Sriram, T.B.K. Watkins, N.K. Taunk, M. Duran, C. Pauli, C. Shaw, K. Chadalavada, V.K. Rajasekhar, G. Genovese, S. Venkatesan, N.J. Birkbak, N. McGranahan, M. Lundquist, Q. LaPlant, J.H. Healey, O. Elemento, C.H. Chung, N.Y. Lee, M. Imielenski, G. Nanjangud, D. Pe’er, D.W. Cleveland, S.N. Powell, J. Lammerding, C. Swanton, L.C. Cantley. Chromosomal instability drives metastasis through a cytosolic DNA response.  Nature, 2018.

  2. A.M. Laughney, S. Elizalde, G. Genovese, S.F. Bakhoum. Dynamics of tumor heterogeneity derived from clonal karyotypic evolution.  Cell Rep., 2015.

  3. S.F. Bakhoum, L. Kabeche, M.D. Wood, C.D. Laucius, D. Qu, A.M. Laughney, G.E. Reynolds, R.J. Louie, J. Phillips, D.A. Chan, B.I. Zaki, J.P. Murnane, C. Petritsch, D.A. Compton. Numerical chromosomal instability mediates susceptibility to radiation treatment.  Nat. Commun., 2015.

  4. S.F. Bakhoum, L. Kabeche, J.P. Murnane, B.I. Zaki, D.A. Compton. DNA-damage response during mitosis induces whole-chromosome missegregation.  Cancer Discov., 2014.

Other Honors:

2018 Tri-Institutional Breakout Prize
2018 Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award for Medical Scientists
2018 NextGen Stars, American Association for Cancer Research (AACR)
2016 Breast Cancer Breakthrough Award, Department of Defense
2012, 2013 Scholar Award, American Federation for Medical Research
2011 Outstanding Young Investigator Award, The American Society for Clinical Investigation and the American Academy of Physicians
2010 American Physician Scientist Association Award
2009 1st Prize, Public Outreach Category, Cell Dance Competition, The American Society for Cell Biology
2008 Norton B. Gilula Award, The American Society for Cell Biology

In the Media:

MSKCC - Escape Artists: Cancer Cells Mimic Immune Cell Activity to Spread

Cell Press Cross Talk - Tumor evolution in a marriage between computation and biology

Science Daily - How cancer metastasis happens: Researchers reveal a key mechanism

Darmouth News - Samuel Bakhoum: Exploring the Intersection of Science and Medicine

Darmouth Geisel School of Medicine News - Meet Samuel Bakhoum, PhD, DMS ’13: Choosing the right question