Michael B. Aregger, Ph.D.

Michael B. Aregger, Ph.D.
Staff Scientist

Michael Aregger’s research focuses on how cancer cells rewire gene expression and metabolism in order to adapt to changing environmental conditions. Towards this, he has developed CRISPR-Cas based screening technologies that afford the identification of genetic interactions and vulnerabilities in cancer cells. Dr. Aregger is further advancing and applying genome engineering technologies and functional genomics approaches in order to reveal genetic interactions associated with metabolic states and identify the major regulators of metabolic plasticity in cancer cells.

Areas of Expertise

1) genetic interactions, 2) cancer metabolism, 3) gene regulation, 4) CRISPR-Cas, 5) genome engineering, 6) functional genomics

Contact Info

Michael B. Aregger, Ph.D.
Center for Cancer Research
National Cancer Institute
Building 560, Room 21-81
Frederick, MD, 21702-1201
Ph: 301-846-6095

A major goal of biomedical research is to reveal genetic dependencies and cellular processes cancer cells rely on in order to exploit them therapeutically. The development of CRISPR-based genome editing technologies have opened the door for efficient perturbation of mammalian genomes and, as such, provide powerful tools for exploring genotype to phenotype relationships. Importantly, the combination of CRISPR technology with functional genomics approaches can be harnessed to systematically identify genetic dependencies and cancer vulnerabilities across diverse cell lines and growth conditions.

Michael Aregger has pioneered the development and application of CRISPR-Cas tools for individual and combinatorial gene targeting in human cells. In his research program, Dr. Aregger uses these transformative functional genomics approaches to uncover genetic dependencies across various environmental conditions and genetic backgrounds. In particular, a major focus of Dr. Aregger’s research is to identify genetic interactions in order to gain insight into the genetic wiring and buffering mechanisms in human cells. By applying this strategy, his research revealed the functional roles of previously uncharacterized genes and uncovered extensive genetic crosstalk and buffering mechanisms within cellular metabolism. Overall, Dr. Aregger’s work aims to expand our understanding of how cancer cells dynamically regulate gene expression and cellular metabolism in response to changing environmental conditions, and to use this knowledge in order to identify genetic dependencies that may present novel targets for combinatorial cancer therapeutic approaches.

NIH Scientific Focus Areas:
Cancer Biology, Genetics and Genomics, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry
  1. Aregger M, Lawson KA, Billmann M, Costanzo M, Tong AHY, Chan K, Rahman M, Brown KR, Ross C, Usaj M, Nedyalkova L, Sizova O, Habsid A, Pawling J, Lin ZY, Abdouni H, Wong CJ, Weiss A, Mero P, Dennis JW, Gingras AC, Myers CL, Andrews BJ, Boone C, Moffat J.
    Nature Metabolism. 2(6): 499-513, 2020. [ Journal Article ]
  2. Gonatopoulos-Pournatzis T, Aregger M, Brown KR, Farhangmehr S, Braunschweig U, Ward HN, Ha KCH, Weiss A, Billmann M, Durbic T, Myers CL, Blencowe BJ, Moffat J.
    Nature Biotechnology. 38(5): 638-648, 2020. [ Journal Article ]
  3. Hart T, Chandrashekhar M, Aregger M, Steinhart Z, Brown KR, MacLeod G, Mis M, Zimmermann M, Fradet-Turcotte A, Sun S, Mero P, Dirks P, Sidhu S, Roth FP, Rissland OS, Durocher D, Angers S, Moffat J.
    Cell. 163(6): 1515-26, 2015. [ Journal Article ]
  4. Aregger M, Chandrashekhar M, Tong AHY, Chan K, Moffat J.
    Methods in Molecular Biology. 1869: 169-188, 2019. [ Journal Article ]
  5. Aregger M, Kaskar A, Varshney D, Fernandez-Sanchez ME, Inesta-Vaquera FA, Weidlich S, Cowling VH.
    Molecular Cell. 61(5): 734-746, 2016. [ Journal Article ]

Dr. Michael Aregger obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of Basel, Switzerland in 2006 before earning his Master’s degree in 2008. In 2014, Dr. Aregger obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Dundee in Scotland where he worked in Prof. Victoria Cowling’s laboratory studying the regulation of mRNA cap methylation in human cells. For his postdoctoral research, he joined Prof. Jason Moffat’s laboratory at the University of Toronto in Canada to study genetic vulnerabilities and interactions in human cells. Dr. Aregger’s postdoctoral research has been recognized with multiple fellowships and awards, including the Donnelly Centre Research Excellence Award (2019) and two postdoctoral fellowships from the Swiss National Science Foundation. In 2020, Dr. Aregger joined the RNA Biology Laboratory at the National Cancer Institute in Frederick, MD as a Staff Scientist in the Functional Transcriptomics Section.