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M. Madan Babu, PhD, FRSC
M. Madan Babu, PhD, FRSC, FMedSci, FRS

M. Madan Babu, PhD, FRSC, FMedSci, FRS

Member, St. Jude Faculty

  • Chief Data Scientist and Senior Vice President for Data Science
  • Director, Center of Excellence for Data Driven Discovery
  • George J. Pedersen Endowed Chair in Biological Data Sciences



Postdoctoral Fellow - NCBI, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA
PhD - MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology and Trinity College, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
BTech - Anna University, Chennai, India

Honors & Awards

  • 2023 Fellow of The Royal Society, UK
  • 2019  EMBO Gold Medal – European Molecular Biology Organization, Germany
  • 2018  Inaugural Life Sciences Laureate – Blavatnik Foundation & New York Academy of Sciences, UK
  • 2018  ISCB Innovator Award – International Society for Computational Biology, USA
  • 2017  Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry – Royal Society of Chemistry, UK
  • 2016  Elected member of EMBO - European Molecular Biology Organization, Germany
  • 2015  Francis Crick Medal and Lecture – The Royal Society, UK
  • 2014  Protein Science Young Investigator Award – Protein Society, USA
  • 2014  Lister Institute Research Prize – Lister Institute of Preventive Medicine, UK
  • 2013  Colworth Medal – Biochemical Society, UK
  • 2011  Balfour Prize - Genetics Society, UK
  • 2010  EMBO Young Investigator – European Molecular Biology Organization, Germany 

Research Interests

Understanding the molecular basis of life requires a deep knowledge of genes and proteins that make up all organisms. My group is interested in data science approaches to make biological discoveries and reveal fundamental principles of biological systems. We employ and develop computational and experimental methods to study biological systems at different scales of complexity: from systems at the atomic level (e.g., structures) to the network of interactions between molecules (e.g., protein interaction networks) and those pertaining to the level of an entire population (e.g., variation in the human population and cancer genomes). We envision that our findings will help to better understand how mutations cause diseases such as cancer, and that the knowledge can be used in biotechnology, drug discovery, and personalized medicine.  Some of the key research areas of interest include:

  • GPCR Signaling, Regulation and Pharmacology
  • Intrinsically Disordered Proteins in Biology and Disease
  • Gene Expression, Gene Regulation, Protein Degradation and Protein Homeostasis
  • Methods for Biological Data Science, Systems Biology and Network Biology
  • Computational Biology and Structural Bioinformatics
  • Drug Discovery and Chemoinformatics
  • Human Genetics, Population Genetics and Cancer Genomics

Selected Publications

G protein Coupled Receptor Signaling

Sandhu M, Cho A, Ma N, Mukhaleva E, Namkung Y, Lee S, Ghosh S, Lee JH, Gloriam DE, Laporte SA, Babu MM, Vaidehi N. Dynamic spatiotemporal determinants modulate GPCR:G protein coupling selectivity and promiscuity. Nat Commun Dec 2;13(1):7428, 2022. doi: 10.1038/s41467-022-34055-5. PMID: 36460632

Marti-Solano M, Crilly SE, Malinverni D, Munk C, Harris M, Pearce A, Quon T, Mackenzie AE, Wang X, Peng J, Tobin AB, Ladds G, Milligan G, Gloriam DE, Puthenveedu MA, Babu MM. Combinatorial expression of GPCR isoforms affects signalling and drug responses. Nature Nov 4;587(7835):650-656, 2020. doi: 10.1038/s41586-020-2888-2. PMID: 33149304

Hauser AS, Chavali S, Masuho I, Jahn LJ, Martemyanov KA, Gloriam DE, Babu MM. Pharmacogenomics of GPCR Drug Targets. Cell Jan 11;172(1-2):41-54.e19, 2018. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2017.11.033. PMID: 29249361

Kayikci M, Venkatakrishnan AJ, Scott-Brown J, Ravarani CNJ, Flock T, Babu MM. Visualization and analysis of non-covalent contacts using the Protein Contacts Atlas. Nat Struct Mol Biol Feb;25(2):185-194, 2018. doi: 10.1038/s41594-017-0019-z. PMID: 29335563

Flock T, Hauser AS, Lund N, Gloriam DE, Balaji S, Babu MM. Selectivity determinants of GPCR-G-protein binding. Nature May 18;545(7654):317-322, 2017. doi: 10.1038/nature22070. PMID: 28489817

Wootten D, Christopoulos A, Marti-Solano M, Babu MM, Sexton PM. Mechanisms of signalling and biased agonism in G protein-coupled receptors. Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol Oct;19(10):638-653, 2018. doi: 10.1038/s41580-018-0049-3. PMID: 30104700

Sente A, Peer R, Srivastava A, Baidya M, Lesk AM, Balaji S, Shukla AK, Babu MM, Flock T. Molecular mechanism of modulating arrestin conformation by GPCR phosphorylation. Nat Struct Mol Biol Jun;25(6):538-545, 2018. doi: 10.1038/s41594-018-0071-3. PMID: 29872229

Venkatakrishnan AJ, Deupi X, Lebon G, Heydenreich FM, Flock T,  Miljus T, Balaji S, Bouvier M, Veprintsev DB, Tate CG, Schertler GFX, Babu MM. Diverse activation pathways in class A GPCRs converge near the G-protein-coupling region. Nature Aug 25;536(7617):484-7, 2016. doi: 10.1038/nature19107. PMID: 27525504

Flock T, Ravarani CNJ, Sun D, Venkatakrishnan AJ, Kayikci M, Tate CG, Veprintsev DB, Babu MM. Universal allosteric mechanism for Gα activation by GPCRs. Nature Aug 13;524(7564):173-179, 2015. doi: 10.1038/nature14663. PMID: 26147082

Venkatakrishnan AJ, Deupi X, Lebon G, Tate CG, Schertler GF, Babu MM. Molecular signatures of G-protein-coupled receptors. Nature Feb 14;494(7436):185-94, 2013. doi: 10.1038/nature11896. PMID: 23407534

Intrinsically Disordered Proteins

Chavali S, Singh AK, Santhanam B, Babu MM. Amino acid homorepeats in proteins. Nature Reviews Chemistry Jul 21;4:420–434, 2020. (Review) doi: 10.1038/s41570-020-0204-1

Ravarani CN, Erkina TY, De Baets G, Dudman DC, Erkine AM, Babu MM. High-throughput discovery of functional disordered regions: investigation of transactivation domains. Mol Syst Biol May 14;14(5):e8190, 2018. doi: 10.15252/msb.20188190. PMID: 29759983

Chavali S, Chavali PL, Chalancon G, de Groot NS, Gemayel R, Latysheva NS, Ing-Simmons E, Verstrepen KJ, Balaji S, Babu MM. Constraints and consequences of the emergence of amino acid repeats in eukaryotic proteins. Nat Struct Mol Biol Sep;24(9):765-777, 2017. doi: 10.1038/nsmb.3441. PMID: 28805808

Latysheva NS, Oates ME, Maddox L, Flock T, Gough J, Buljan M, Weatheritt RJ, Babu MM. Molecular Principles of Gene Fusion Mediated Rewiring of Protein Interaction Networks in Cancer. Mol Cell Aug 18;63(4):579-592, 2016. doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2016.07.008. PMID: 27540857

Tompa P, Davey NE, Gibson TJ, Babu MM. A million peptide motifs for the molecular biologist. Mol Cell Jul 17;55(2):161-9, 2014. doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2014.05.032. PMID: 25038412

van der Lee R, Lang B, Kruse K, Gsponer J, de Groot NS, Huynen MA, Matouschek A, Fuxreiter M, Babu MM. Intrinsically disordered segments affect protein half-life in the cell and during evolution. Cell Rep Sep 25;8(6):1832-1844, 2014. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2014.07.055. PMID: 25220455

Gsponer J, Babu MM. Cellular strategies for regulating functional and nonfunctional protein aggregation. Cell Rep Nov 29;2(5):1425-37, 2012. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2012.09.036. PMID: 23168257

Buljan M, Chalancon G, Eustermann S, Wagner GP, Fuxreiter M, Bateman A, Babu MM. Tissue-specific splicing of disordered segments that embed binding motifs rewires protein interaction networks. Mol Cell Jun 29;46(6):871-83, 2012. doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2012.05.039. PMID: 22749400

Gsponer J, Futschik ME, Teichmann SA, Babu MM. Tight regulation of unstructured proteins: from transcript synthesis to protein degradation. Science Nov 28;322(5906):1365-8, 2008. doi: 10.1126/science.1163581. PMID: 19039133

van der Lee R, Buljan M, Lang B, Weatheritt RJ, Daughdrill GW, Dunker AK, Fuxreiter M, Gough J, Gsponer J, Jones DT, Kim PM, Kriwacki RW, Oldfield CJ, Pappu RV, Tompa P, Uversky VN, Wright PE, Babu MM. Classification of intrinsically disordered regions and proteins. Chem Rev Jul 9;114(13):6589-631, 2014. doi: 10.1021/cr400525m. PMID: 24773235

Gene Expression Regulation

Torrent M, Chalancon G, de Groot NS, Wuster A, Babu MM. Cells alter their tRNA abundance to selectively regulate protein synthesis during stress conditions. Sci Signal Sep 4;11(546):eaat6409, 2018. doi: 10.1126/scisignal.aat6409. PMID: 30181241

Ravarani CNJ, Chalancon G, Breker M, de Groot NS, Babu MM. Affinity and competition for TBP are molecular determinants of gene expression noise. Nat Commun Feb 2;7:10417, 2016. doi: 10.1038/ncomms10417. PMID: 26832815

Sanchez de Groot N, Torrent Burgas M, Ravarani CN, Trusina A, Ventura S, Babu MM. The fitness cost and benefit of phase-separated protein deposits. Mol Syst Biol Apr 8;15(4):e8075, 2019. doi: 10.15252/msb.20178075. PMID: 30962358

Raja Jothi R, Balaji S, Wuster A, Grochow JA, Gsponer J, Przytycka TM, Aravind L, Babu MM. Genomic analysis reveals a tight link between transcription factor dynamics and regulatory network architecture. Mol Syst Biol 5:294, 2009. doi: 10.1038/msb.2009.52. PMID: 19690563

Teichmann SA, Babu MM. Gene regulatory network growth by duplication. Nat Genet May;36(5):492-6, 2004. doi: 10.1038/ng1340. PMID: 15107850

Babu MM, Luscombe NM, Aravind L, Gerstein M, Teichmann SA. Structure and evolution of transcriptional regulatory networks. Curr Opin Struct Biol Jun;14(3):283-91, 2004. doi: 10.1016/ PMID: 15193307

Luscombe NM, Babu MM, Yu H, Snyder M, Teichmann SA, Gerstein M. Genomic analysis of regulatory network dynamics reveals large topological changes. Nature Sep 16;431(7006):308-12, 2004. doi: 10.1038/nature02782. PMID: 15372033

Full list of publications

Last update: November 2023