Matthew Kieffer

Portrait of Matthew Kieffer

Matthew Kieffer's original dream was to pursue a career in microbiology. After working in the lab for several years, he decided to switch fields after developing an interest in cancer biology. Kieffer is now pursuing cancer biology research at St. Jude.

Kieffer received his bachelor’s degree in biology with a minor in French in 2014 from the University of Alabama. After graduation, he worked as a research technician for several years. At the University of Chicago, he worked on developing a novel vaccine to prevent Staphylococcus aureus infections in the lab of Dominique Missiakas, PhD and Olaf Schneewind, PhD. He later joined the lab of Karla Satchell, PhD at Northwestern University, where he studied the function of the Rho Inactivation Domain from the Vibrio cholerae MARTX toxin. During this time, he also worked with a post-doctoral fellow to help translate the RRSP effector domain from the Vibrio vulnificus MARTX toxin that has been shown to cleave and inactivate RAS, an important oncogene, into a potential cancer therapeutic. He earned his master's degree from the St. Jude Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences in April 2021.

Kieffer currently works in the labs of Elizabeth A. Stewart, MD and Michael Dyer, PhD, in the Department of Developmental Neurobiology, where he is studying de-regulation of DNA repair in the pediatric solid tumor Ewing sarcoma.

“I love the sense of community that between all the graduate students,” he says. “Knowing that everyone in your cohort supports you and is there to help is a great feeling.”

Hometown: Chicago, IL


Vidimar V, Park M, Beilhartz GL, Biancucci, M, Kieffer MB, Gius DR, Melnyk RA, Satchell KJF. An engineered chimeric toxin that cleaves activated mutant and wild-type RAS inhibits tumor growth. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA  Jul; 117 (29) 16938-16948; 2020 doi: 10.1073/pnas.2000312117020

Zhu Y, Zou X, Dean AE, O’Brien J, Gao Y, Tran EL, Park SH, Liu G, Kieffer MB, Jiang H, Stauffer ME, Hart R, Quan S, Satchell KJF, Horikoshi N, Bonini M, Gius D. Lysine 68 acetylation regulates the dichotomous role of MnSOD: a protective tetrameric detoxification complex versus a monomeric tumor promoter. Nat Commun 10, 2399, 2019.

Biancucci M, MinasovG, Banerjee A, Herrera A, Woida PJ, Kieffer MB, Bindu L, Abreu-Blanco M, Anderson W, Gaponenko V, Stephen AG, Holderfield M, Satchell KJF.  The bacterial Ras/Rap1 site-specific endopeptidase RRSP cleaves Ras through a unique mechanism to disrupt Ras-ERK signaling. Science signaling, 11(550), eaat8335; 2018.

Thomer L, Emolo C, Thammavongsa V, Kim H, McAdow M, Yu W, Kieffer M, Schneewind O, Missiakas D.  Antibodies against a secreted product of Staphylococcus aureus trigger phagocytic killing. J Exp Med 213 (3): 293–301, 2016.