Schvartzman Lab at HICCC of Columbia University

Core Values

Basic Science = Knowledge & Knowledge = Technology

We believe that curiosity-driven research has inherent value that is independent of its foreseeable clinical or technological applications. Because we study evolutionary conserved phenomena of cellular and organismal biology, we believe our work will offer clues to understanding and treating pathological processes.

A cartoon of our approach to bench-to-bedside science

The practice of medicine can be a fountain of questions about human biology

As critical to understanding the importance of basic science, we are also aware of the needs of advancing modern medicine. In the CHROMETAB lab, bench to bedside works in both directions. The daily practice of medicine affords a unique perspective of the diversity of biological and pathological phenomena in an outbred population, and helps identify critical questions whose answers could diminish human suffering.

We are also committed to applying the concepts learned from basic scientific advances to the understanding of human cancer. This is why we focus on using next generation epigenetic landscaping technologies like ATAC-seq, Cut & Run and Cut & Tag as well as their single-cell variants, to the study of patient biopsies. We are particularlly interested in using serial biopsies from patients on clinical trials as a window into the dynamics of tumor behavior and the nature of inter-patient variability.

Diversity of people & diversity of ideas

The serendipitous nature of scientific discovery underscores the value of having a diverse group of people working to solve a biological problem. In starting the CHROMETAB group, we are committed to fostering a working environment that welcomes people of all countries, ethnicities, genders and training backgrounds. We believe that diverse environments can maximally realize the creative potential of each individual. As such, it is no accident that our home is in New York, a city that thrives off its cultural diversity.

Work/Life balance

Science is hard, most of our cherished hypotheses turn out to be wrong, experiments fail, and grant applications and manuscripts don’t end up where we want them to. This is the nature of scientific work (see this). This is even true for Nobel Prize winners (see this). So it is all the more important to understand that the right environment for science is one where we can vent these frustrations and learn from our failures.

The CHROMETAB lab is committed to maintaining the work/life balance of its members, all the more because great ideas may come from NOT doing science. This approach can take many forms, from finding time to go to the gym, spending evenings with your children, taking meaningful and regular vacations, to group activities that defuse the tensions of this ever-increasingly competitive career. We are only starting out so this is a work in progress, and we would love to hear how other labs address this issue.

See this for an interesting read on this topic:

Communication is key and is part of our job

Our goal as a lab is to tell stories about biology and diseases like cancer.

In the CHROMETAB lab we strive to be story-tellers, and to learn from good story-tellers. Listening to and studying well-told stories will be at the core of our lab values and may involve stepping outside traditional comfort zones.

We are also committed to communicating our findings to many types of audiences. Specialized and broad scientific audiences will be the bulk of this but we also understand our part in the social contract. Communicating our findings to the general population is a skill perhaps more difficult than giving a good research seminar, but can be even more rewarding.

We are eager to participate in multidisciplinary discussions about the role of science in society, the implications of our scientific findings and the interactions between biology and other scientific and non-scientific fields.