Hojoong Kwak
Assistant Professor
Hojoong Kwak


Fax: 607-255-5961


Department of Molecular Biology & Genetics
Cornell University
316 Biotechnology Building
Ithaca, NY 14853


Web Sites

Department Profile

Lab Website


Hojoong Kwak was awarded an M.D. degree in Medicine (2002) and a M.S. degree in biochemistry (2005) from Seoul National University, as well as a Ph.D. degree in molecular biology and genetics from Cornell University (2013). He was a Postdoctoral Associate at Cornell in 2013, a Research Associate at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute from 2013-2015, and a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Michigan in 2015. He was appointed as an Assistant Professor at Cornell University in January 2016.

Research Description

The Kwak laboratory studies the regulation of human gene expression, in particular, they are interested in:

  • identifying regulatory regions of the genome and how their variations impact phenotypes in human population and disease;
  • how RNAs are further modified and distributed in the cytoplasm to tune gene expression;
  • genome-wide analysis of RNA and DNA in single cells.

Read more about our research.


Zhao Y, Liu Q, Acharya P, Stengel KR, Sheng Q, Zhou X, Kwak H, Fischer MA, Bradner JE, Strickland SA, Mohan SR, Savona MR, Venters BJ, Zhou MM, Lis JT, Hiebert SW. (2016) High-Resolution Mapping of RNA Polymerases Identifies Mechanisms of Sensitivity and Resistance to BET Inhibitors in t(8;21) AML. Cell Rep.16(7):2003-16

Mahat DB*, Kwak H*, Booth GT, Jonkers IH, Danko CG, Patel RK, Waters CT,Munson K, Core LJ, Lis JT. (2016) Base-Pair Resolution Genome-Wide Mapping Of Active RNA polymerases using Precision Nuclear Run-On (PRO-seq). Nat Protoc. 11(8):1455-76. (* equal contribution)

Welsh IC, Kwak H, Chen FL, Werner M, Shopland LS, Danko CG, Lis JT, Zhang M, Martin JF, Kurpios NA. (2015) Chromatin architecture of the Pitx2 locus requires CTCF- and Pitx2-dependent asymmetry that mirrors embryonic gut laterality. Cell Rep. 13(2):337-49. PMCID: PMC4617833.

Jonkers IH*, Kwak H *, Lis JT. (2014) Genome-wide transcription dynamics reveal the interplay of pausing and elongation rates on pre-mRNA splicing. Elife 3:e02407. PMCID: PMC4001325. (* equal contribution)

Satyaki PR, Cuykendall TN, Wei KH, Brideau NJ, Kwak H, Aruna S, Ferree PM, Ji S, Barbash DA. (2014) The Hmr and Lhr hybrid incompatibility genes suppress a broad range of heterochromatic repeats. PLoS Genet. 10(3):e1004240. PMCID: PMC3961192.

Wang IX, Core LJ, Kwak H, Brady L, Bruzel A, McDaniel L, Richards AL, Wu M, Grunseich C, Lis JT, Cheung VG. (2014) RNA-DNA differences are generated in human cells within seconds after RNA exits polymerase II. Cell Rep. 6(5):906-15.

Pagano JM, Kwak H, Waters CT, Sprouse RO, White BS, Ozer A, Szeto K, Shalloway D, Craighead HG, Lis JT. (2014) Defining NELF-E RNA binding in HIV-1 and promoter-proximal pause regions. PLoS Genet. 10(1):e1004090. PMCID: PMC3894171.

Buckley MS*, Kwak H*, Zipfel WR, Lis JT. Kinetics of promoter Pol II on Hsp70 reveal stable pausing and key insights to its regulation. Genes Dev. 28(1):14-9. PMCID: PMC3894409. (* equal contribution)

Kwak H, Lis JT. (2013) Control of transcriptional elongation. Ann Rev Genet. 47:483-508. (Review) PMCID: PMC3974797.

Schaaf CA, Kwak H, Koenig A, Misulovin Z, Gohara DW, Watson A, Zhou Y, Lis JT, Dorsett D. (2013) Genome-wide control of RNA polymerase II activity by Cohesion. PLoS Genet. 9(3):e1003382. PMCID: PMC3605059.

Kwak H, Fuda NJ, Core LJ, Lis JT. (2013) Precise maps of RNA polymerase reveal how promoters direct initiation and pausing. Science. 339(6122):950-3. PMCID: PMC3974810.

Core LJ, Waterfall JJ, Gilchrist DA, Fargo DC, Kwak H, Adelman K, Lis JT. (2012) Defining the status of RNA polymerase at promoters. Cell Rep. 2(4):1025-35. PMCID: PMC3483431.

Chae MJ, Sung HY, Kim EH, Lee M, Kwak H, Chae CH, Kim S, Park WY. (2009) Chemical inhibitors destabilize HuR binding to the AU-rich element of TNF-alpha mRNA. Exp Mol Med. 41(11):824-31. PMCID: PMC2788736.

Kwak H, Jeong KC, Chae MJ, Kim SY, Park WY. (2009) Flavonoids inhibit the AU-rich element binding of HuC. BMB Rep. 42(1):41-6.