• Researcher Profile

    Franziska Michor, Ph.D.

    Franziska Michor, Ph.D.
    Office phone: 617-632-5045

    Preferred contact method: appointment phone

    Research Department

    Biostatistics and Computational Biology

    Area of Research

    Cancer evolution, mathmatical modeling, cancer genomics, treatment response, cancer stem cells

    Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
    450 Brookline Avenue
    Center for Life Sciences CLS 11029
    Boston, MA 02215


    Dr. Franziska Michor is an Associate Professor of Computational Biology in the Department of Biostatistics and Computational Biology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and in the Department of Biostatistics at the Harvard School of Public Health – as well as the Principal Investigator of the NIH’s Physical Science-Oncology Center located at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.  Dr. Michor obtained her undergraduate in mathematics and molecular biology from the University of Vienna, Austria, medical biotechnology at the Università degli Studi di Trieste, Italy, as well as her PhD from the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University.  Afterwards, she was awarded a junior fellowship from the Harvard Society of Fellows.  From 2007 until 2010, she was an Assistant Professor in the Computational Biology Program at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.  In 2010, she moved to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard School of Public Health.  Dr. Michor has been the recipient of the Theodosius Dobzhansky Prize of the Society for the Study of Evolution, a Gerstner Young Investigator Award, and a Leon Levy Young Investigator Award.  Dr. Michor’s laboratory investigates the evolutionary dynamics of cancer initiation, progression, response to therapy, and emergence of resistance.

    Recent Awards

    • Gerstner Young Investigator Award, 2010
    • Leon Levy Young Investigator Award, 2009
    • Austrian Scientists and Scholars in North America (ASCINA) Award, 2008
    • Theodosius Dobzhansky Prize, Society for the Study of Evolution, 2007
    • Junior Fellowship, Harvard Society of Fellows, Harvard University, 2005-2008
    • Harold M. Wintraub Graduate Student Award, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington, 2004
    • Austrian Mathematical Society Prize for paper titled, The Mathematics of Planetary Movement, 2000


    Cancer evolution, mathmatical modeling, cancer genomics, treatment response, cancer stem cells

    The research of our lab focuses on the evolutionary dynamics of cancer. Cancer emerges due to an evolutionary process in somatic tissue. The fundamental laws of evolution can best be formulated as exact mathematical equations. Therefore, the process of cancer initiation and progression is amenable to mathematical investigation. Current areas of research include cancer stem cells, evolution of drug resistance, and the dynamics of metastasis formation.

    Select Publications

    • Michor F, Hughes TP, Iwasa Y, Branford S, Shah NP, Sawyers CL, Nowak MA (2005) Dynamics of chronic myeloid leukemia. Nature 435, 1267-1270.
    • Dingli D, Michor F (2006) Successful therapy must eradicate cancer stem cells. Stem Cells 24, 2603-2610
    • Michor F, Iwasa Y, Nowak MA (2006) The age incidence of chronic myeloid leukemia can be explained by a one-mutation model. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A103, 14931-14934.
    • Michor F (2007) CML blast crisis arises from progenitors. Stem Cells 25, 1114-1118.
    • Michor F (2007) The long-term response to imatinib treatment of CML. British Journal of Cancer 96, 679-680.
    • Michor F (2008) Mathematical models of cancer stem cells. J Clin Oncol 26, 2854-2861.
    • Foo J, Michor F (2009) Evolution of resistance to targeted anti-cancer therapy during continuous and pulsed administration strategies. PLoS Computational Biology 5, e1000557.
    • Haeno H, Levine RL, Gilliland DG, Michor F (2009) The cell of origin of hematopoietic malignancies. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A106, 16616-16621.
    • Foo J, Drummond MW, Clarkson B, Holyoke T, Michor F (2009) Eradication of chronic myeloid leukemia stem cells: a novel mathematical model predicts no therapeutic benefit of adding G-CSF to imatinib. PLoS Computational Biology 5, e10000503.
    • De Vargas Roditi L, Michor F (2010) Evolutionary dynamics of BRCA1 alterations in breast tumorigenesis. J Theor Biol 273, 207-215.
    • Leder K, Holland EC, Michor F (2010) The therapeutic implications of plasticity of the cancer stem cell phenotype. PLoS ONE 5, e14366.
    • Michor F, Polyak K (2010) The origins and implications of intratumor heterogeneity. Cancer Prevention Research 3, 1361-1364.
    • Stephan-Otto Attolini C*, Cheng Y-K*, Beroukhim R, Getz G, Abdel-Wahab O, Levine RL, Mellinghoff IK, Michor F (2010) A novel mathematical framework to determine the temporal sequence of somatic genetic events in cancer. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 107, 17604-17609. * Equal contribution.
    • Danielson LS, Menendez S, Stephan-Otto Attolini C, Guijarro MV, Bisogna M, Wei J, Socci ND, Levine DA, Michor F, Hernando E (2010) A differentiation-based miRNA signature identifies leiomyosarcoma as a mesenchymal stem cell-related malignancy. Am J Pathol 177, 908-917.
    • Riester M*, Stephan-Otto Attolini C*, Downey RJ, Singer S, Michor F (2010) A differentiation-based phylogeny of cancer subtypes.PLoS Computational Biology 6, e1000777. *Equal contribution.
    • Park SY, Gonen M, Kim HJ, Michor F*, Polyak K* (2010) Cellular and genetic diversity in the progression of in situ human breast carcinomas to an invasive phenotype. Jour Clin Invest 120, 636-644. * Equal contribution.
    • De S, Michor F (2011) DNA replication timing and long-range DNA interactions predict mutational landscapes of cancer genomes.  Nature Biotechnology 29, 1103-1108.
    • Michor F, Liphardt J, Ferrari M, Widom J (2011) What does physics have to do with cancer? Nature Reviews Cancer11, 657-670.
    • Tang M, Gonen M, Quintas-Cardama A, Cortes J, Kantarjian H, Field C, Hughes TP, Branford S, Michor F (2011) Dynamics of chronic myeloid leukemia response to long-term targeted therapy reveal treatment effects on leukemic stem cells. Blood 118, 1622-1631.
    • Chmielecki J, Foo J, Oxnard GR, Hutchinson K, Ohashi K, Somwar R, Wang L, Amato KR, Arcila M, Sos ML, Socci ND, Viale A, de Stanchina E, Ginsberg MS, Thomas RK, Kris MG, Inoue A, Ladanyi M, Miller VA, Michor F, Pao W (2011) Optimization of dosing for EGFR-mutant non-small cell lung cancer with evolutionary cancer modeling. Science Translational Medicine 3, 90ra59.
    • De S, Michor F (2011) DNA secondary structures and epigenetic determinants of cancer genome evolution. Nature Structural and Molecular Biology 18, 950-955.
    • Durrett R, Foo J, Leder K, Mayberry J, Michor F (2011) Intratumor heterogeneity in evolutionary models of tumor progression. Genetics 188, 461-477.
    • Klinakis A, Lobry C, Abdel-Wahab O, Oh P, Haeno H, Buonamici S, van de Walle I, Cathelin S, Trimarchi T, Araldi E, Liu C, Ibrahim S, Beran M, Zavadil J, Efstratiadis A, Taghon T, Michor F, Levine RL, Aifantis A (2011) A novel tumor suppressor function for the Notch pathway in myeloid leukemia. Nature 473, 230-233.
    • Iwasa Y, Michor F (2011) Evolutionary dynamics of intratumor heterogeneity. PLoS ONE 6, e17866. Foo J*, Leder K*, Michor F (2010) Stochastic dynamics of cancer initiation. Physical Biology 8, 015002. * Equal contribution.
    • Haeno H*, Gonen M*, Davis MB, Herman JM, Iacobuzio-Donahue CA, Michor F (2012) Computational modeling of pancreatic cancer progression reveals dynamics of growth and dissemination and suggests optimum treatment strategies.Cell 148, 362-375.


    • Liu, Lin, BS
    • Zhao, Rui, BS, MS
    • Haeno, Hiroshi, PhD
    • Riester, Markus, PhD
    • Podlaha, Ondrej, PhD
    • Maruvka, Yosef, PhD
    • Cheng, Yu-Kang, PhD