The Sarosiek Laboratory at Harvard School of Public Health

The Sarosiek Laboratory pursues research focusing on a fundamental question that has broad implications for health and disease: What determines whether a cell will live or die in response to damage or stress?

Working collaboratively with clinicians and researchers across disciplines, we strive to answer cell fate-related questions in these research areas:

Environmental and Medical Exposures; Infectious Diseases: How do environmental toxicants, certain medical treatments, and disease-associated processes stress cells within our bodies? How do stressed or damaged cells decide whether to undergo cell death and how is that modulated at the molecular level by physiological or pathological processes? Why are some individuals, in particular young children, more sensitive to these exposures than others and how can we intervene to improve outcomes? Key interests: role of cell death regulation in environmental toxicant- and radiation-induced injuries especially neurotoxicity as well as pulmonary, cardiovascular and reproductive toxicity resulting from infectious diseases.

Cancer and AL Amyloidosis Therapy: Why are some cancers highly sensitive to chemotherapy or radiation while others are particularly resistant? Can we improve the sensitivity of cancerous cells or clonal plasma cells to therapy by modulating their cell death pathways with novel drugs such as BH3 mimetics? Why are chemotherapy and radiation toxic to certain organs but not others, and how does the patient’s age at the time of treatment affect the development of long-term toxicities? Key interests: mechanistic studies of cancer therapy effectiveness and toxicities in malignancies and AL amyloidosis.

Neurodevelopment and Neurodegeneration: Why do neurons maintain survival and function throughout life for many individuals, yet readily die in patients affected by Alzheimer’s disease? How do cell death pathways change, and interface with each other, to drive cell fate decisions across one’s lifetime? How does injury or the initiation of disease disrupt this process? Key interests: Alzheimer’s disease, brain injuries.

We believe that cell death regulation is a key determinant of outcomes in each of these areas. Broadly, we seek to understand how the regulation of apoptosis (programmed cell death) in healthy as well as diseased cells affects their sensitivity to damage or stress. To accomplish this, our research utilizes in vitro and in vivo models of cancer, neurodegenerative diseases and chronic as well as acute injuries. We employ genetic, cellular, and molecular approaches to make discoveries that will help predict and prevent healthy tissue toxicities induced by environmental or medical factors, especially in vulnerable populations such as young children. You can read more about our research findings here and learn how we’re moving discoveries from our laboratory into clinics and communities.

Join our team!

Graduate Students: Students currently enrolled in any Harvard graduate program are eligible to join the Sarosiek Laboratory. Please email your CV and a brief description of your research interests to to schedule an in-person interview.

If you are a prospective Graduate Student that is interested in our laboratory, please apply to the graduate programs that we are affiliated with, including PhD Program in Biological Sciences in Public Health and PhD in Population Health Sciences at Harvard School of Public Health or any of the PhD programs offered through the Harvard Integrated Life Sciences (HILS) Program. Please email me if you have questions about which graduate program may be the best fit for you.

Postdoctoral Fellows: The laboratory is currently recruiting passionate, ambitious and hard-working postdocs interested in pursuing innovative projects in cell death research. If you are interested in joining the team, please send an email to and include the following materials:

1. A current CV
2. Contact information for 3 references
3. A cover letter describing your past research experience and future research goals

Clinical Fellows: We value our strong collaborations with clinicians and encourage fellows interested in cell death to email to discuss research opportunities.

Global Fellows: We’re building off-site teams of researchers specializing in data mining (machine learning, biostatistics, and database systems) to address cell death-related questions in medicine and public health. If you’re interested, email to discuss further.

Contact information:

Kristopher Sarosiek, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Molecular and Integrative Physiological Sciences (MIPS) Program
John B. Little Center for Radiation Sciences
Department of Environmental Health
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
655 Huntington Avenue
Building 2, Room 221
Boston, MA 02115
Office: (617) 432-1104

To view a complete list of our publications, please visit Publications or Google Scholar.