Joh Laboratory

Department of Physics
Virginia Commonwealth University

Cancer Biology

About PI

PI: Richard Inho Joh (조인호)

Assiatnat Professor
Department of Physics
Associate Member
Massey Cancer Center
Office: 701 W Grace St Room 2105
e-mail: rich.i.joh at
Phone: 804-828-3366

Richard is a biophysicist with broad interests in fundamental questions in life sciences. Prior to joining VCU, he was at the MGH Center for Cancer Research where he studied 1) how the one dimensional genome organization facilitates transcriptional coregulation of multiple pathways and 2) molecular mechanisms of quiescence.

Research Fellow, Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Cancer Research, Harvard Medical School (2013-2019)
Postdoctoral Associate, Chemical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2011-2013)
Ph.D. Physics, Georgia Institute of Technology (2011)
B.S. Physics and Mathematics, Seoul National University (2006)


Richard Joh

Principal investigator


Physics of cancer

Meh image

I am interested in how the extracellular environment affects internal states of cells. One of the focuses is how the stiffness of the surrounding matrix. Matrix stiffness is a critical factor deciding cell fate, and the same cells can acquire different properties on different extracellular matrix. My group aims to study this question focusing on how the information of the extracellular matrix is stored in the cell.

Understanding this is critical in the tumor progression as aggressive tumor cells often invade and migrate into other tissues, known as metastasis (Wirtz et al (2011) Nat Rev Cancer). I am using yeast and human cells to tackle this, and yeast cells, due to easy genomic manipulation and faster growth, provide unique opportunities over human cells. Some of the specific questions that we are interested in are: 1) how the extracellular matrix stiffness affects the chromatin landscape and heterochromatin organization and 2) how the matrix stiffness contributes to the tumor aggressiveness.

Genome organization

I am interested in how the genome organization facilitates the coregulation of multiple pathways. This is critical for cell survival as cells often have to change the gene expression of thousands of genes rapidly in response to environmental stimuli or stress. Previously, I showed that the one-dimensional organization of the genome is critical for co-regulation of multiple pathways (Joh et al, under review).

Following up on this, I plan to systematically access 1) if the disruption of such genome organization leads to the loss of coherence among well-characterized pathways in human and 2) how such disruption affects the patient survival in various human diseases. Also, I am interested in how the 3D genome organization facilitates crosstalk between different chromosomes.


RI Joh‡, MJ Aryee, M Lawrence, M Motamedi‡, Gene clustering drives co-regulation of disparate biological pathways in eukaryotes (submitted)
    ‡ Correspondion author

J Hanai, E Shuto, RI Joh, TGFβ-induced epithelial mesenchymal transition (in prep)

RI Joh, JS Khanduja, IA Calvo, M Mistry, CM Palmieri, AJ Savol, SJH Sui, R Sadreyev, MJ Aryee, M Motamedi, Survival in quiescence requires the euchromatic deployment of Clr4/SUV39H by Argonaute-associated small RNAs, Molecular Cell 2016 64(6), 1088-1101
    Boston Magazine Jan 24 2017

JS Khanduja†, IA Calvo†, RI Joh†, IT Hill, M Motamedi, Nuclear noncoding RNAs and genome stability, Molecular Cell, 2016, 63(1), 7-20
    † Equal contribution

MT Cummings†, RI Joh†, M Motamedi, PRIMED: PRIMEr Database for deleting and tagging all fission and budding yeast genes developed using the open-source genome retrieval script (GRS), PLoS One, 2015, 10(2), e0116657
    † Equal contribution

RI Joh, CM Palmieri, IT Hill, M Motamedi, Regulation of histone methylation by noncoding RNAs, Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Gene Regulatory Mechanisms, 2014, 1839(12), 1385-1394

RI Joh, RM Hoekstra, EJ Barzilay, A Bowen, ED Mintz, H Weiss, JS Weitz, Dynamics of Shigellosis epidemics: estimating individual-level transmission and reporting rates from national epidemiologic data sets, American Journal of Epidemiology, 2013, 178(8), 1319-1326
    Honorable Mention, Applied Category, 2014 CDC/ATSDR Statistical Science Award

RI Joh, JS Weitz, To lyse or not to lyse: transient-mediated stochastic fate determination in cells infected by bacteriophages, PLoS Compututational Biology, 2011, 7(3), e1002006

RI Joh‡, H Wang, H Weiss, JS Weitz, Dynamics of indirectly transmitted infectious diseases with immunological threshold, Bulletin of Mathematical Biology, 2008, 71(4), 845-862
    ‡ Corresponding author

Y Mileyko, RI Joh, JS Weitz, Small-scale copy number variation and large-scale changes in gene expression, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 2008, 105(43), 16659-16664

JS Weitz, Y Mileyko, RI Joh, EO Voit, Collective decision making in bacterial viruses, Biophysical Journal, 2008, 95(6), 2673-2680
    Research Highlights: Nature (2008) 454: 256
    Research Horizons (2008) 25(3): 6-19
    Georgia Tech Research News Sep 15 2008


Department of Physics
701 W Grace St Room 2131 / 2133
Richmond VA 23220

We are looking for graduate and undergraduate students.