Benjamin D Greenbaum

Benjamin D Greenbaum, PhD

  • ASSISTANT PROFESSOR | Medicine, Hematology and Medical Oncology
  • ASSISTANT PROFESSOR | Oncological Sciences

I am a quantitative biologist working at the intersection of cancer research, immunology, evolution, and virology. Our lab uses tools from theoretical physics, mathematics and computer science to better understand how self versus non-self discrimination occurs and the role such discrimination plays in the evolution of tumors and viruses. Previously, we showed how single-stranded RNA viruses evolve to mimic the genomic environment of their hosts. We found that the original 1918 influenza lineage altered its genome to mimic nucleotide motif composition features of the human genome, likely in response to targeting of those motifs by innate immune receptors, and found that such host genome mimicry is a generic feature of many viruses.

The significance of the immune mechanisms driving viral evolution in cancer has recently become fully appreciated. As a result we are applying our approaches to problems in immunotherapy and general cancer immunology. We are working to quantify the role of the immune system in several cancers, the interaction of host tumoral RNA and neoantigens with immune receptors, and the role of endogenous and exogenous of viruses in cancers. Recently we demonstrated how a set of non-coding RNA emanating from genomic "dark matter" repetitive regions has properties of pathogenic RNA, and is likely immunostimulatory in the tumor microenvironment. In addition to shedding light on these scientific issues, we are working to translate our work into clinically impactful results in areas such as immunotherapy. At the same time we continue to develop theoretical approaches to a variety of fundamental problems in host and viral genome evolution.


PhD, Columbia University