Graduate School of Medical Sciences
A partnership with the Sloan Kettering Institute

Stewart Shuman

Dr. Shuman Headshot
The Shuman lab investigates the mechanisms and structures of enzymes that perform and regulate essential nucleic acid transactions, including DNA repair, RNA repair, tRNA splicing, transcription, and mRNA processing.


To understand the mechanisms and structures of enzymes that perform and regulate DNA and RNA transactions, we integrate diverse experimental approaches – including microbiology, biochemistry, structural biology, and genetics – and apply them to model systems ranging from viruses to bacteria to fungi to mammalian cells. We are interested in the evolution of enzyme systems and pathways and the ancestral connections between RNA and DNA metabolism. An explicit aim is to identify novel enzymatic targets for treatment of human diseases, especially infectious diseases. Our research efforts have been fruitful, i.e., discovery of new enzymes, new pathways, new protein structures, and distinctive enzyme specificities and chemistries.

Key themes are: (i) the structure, mechanism, and distinctive specificities of fungal tRNA splicing enzymes Trl1 and Tpt1 – as paradigms of an RNA repair system essential for normal cell physiology and as promising targets for anti-fungal drug discovery; (ii) the unique catalytic mechanism, end-specificity, and regulation of GTP-dependent 3'-PO4/5'-OH RNA ligase RtcB, which catalyzes tRNA splicing in animals and RNA repair in bacteria; (iii) biochemical and structural characterization of novel regulators of RNA 3'-processing/transcription termination in fission yeast (collaboration with Beate Schwer at Weill Cornell); (iv) defining the cellular responses and adaptations (at the level of the transcriptome, the proteome, and the metabolome) to chronic phosphate limitation; (v) mechanisms of DNA recombination, repair, and mutagenesis in mycobacteria, a genus that includes the human pathogen M. tuberculosis (collaboration with Michael Glickman at MSKCC). 

Current Projects:

  • Mycobacterial DNA repair and recombination
  • tRNA splicing and RNA repair
  • Transcriptional regulation
  • Cellular phosphate homeostasis


Dr. Shuman obtained a B.A. in biology from Wesleyan University in 1976, followed by a PhD (in nucleic acid biochemistry, with mentor Jerry Hurwitz) and MD from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine (1983). He completed a residency in Internal Medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital in 1986, followed by a fellowship in virology at the National Institutes of Health (with Bernard Moss). He joined the faculty of the Sloan-Kettering Institute in 1988, where, over the ensuing 35 years, he has mentored 38 graduate students who have conducted their PhD research in his lab.


  • Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2015)
  • Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology (2013)
  • NIH MERIT Award (2007)
  • American Cancer Society Research Professorship (2005 –)
  • Simon H. Rifkind Chair, Sloan-Kettering Institute (1999 – )
  • American Cancer Society Faculty Research Award (1994-99)
  • Pew Scholar (1990-94)
  • American Cancer Society Junior Faculty Research Award (1989-92)

Current Areas of Focus

Need more info?
Ask a question
Follow us on

Weill Cornell Medicine Graduate School of Medical Sciences 1300 York Ave. Box 65 New York, NY 10065 Phone: (212) 746-6565 Fax: (212) 746-8906