Matthew Shair (b. 1968) is a Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University, an associate of the Broad Institute and an affiliate of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute.
Shair studies human disease biology using small molecules. He then translates these studies towards novel therapeutics. His lab integrates organic chemistry, human disease biology and drug development.
One example of his research, recently published in Nature, is his laboratory’s discovery that inhibition of CDK8 and CDK19 using the small molecule cortistatin A is a new therapeutic approach to acute myeloid leukemia (AML). The Shair lab found that inhibition of CDK8 and CDK19, kinases that associate with the Mediator complex, cause upregulation of super-enhancer-associated genes in AML. These studies were the first to show that CDK8/19 kinase activity represses increased transcription of super-enhancer-associated genes and that the Mediator complex can be directly targeted with small molecules as a therapeutic approach to cancer.
Shair has also used small molecules to uncover that targeting oxysterol-binding proteins is a new approach to treating solid tumors and he discovered secramine, a CDC42-targeting small molecule which has become a valuable tool to study cell migration in cells. His lab has also developed ways to assemble complex small molecules with high efficiency including syntheses of the natural products CP-263,114, longithorone A, hibarimcinone, hyperforin, fastigiatine, cephalostatin 1 and cortistatin A.
He has been the recipient of several awards for his work, most notably the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Prize in the Physical Sciences-Chemistry administered by Tel Aviv University and the Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award.
He has been a founder of several biotech companies including Infinity Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: INFI), Makoto Life Sciences and Chemiderm. He has also been an advisor to Ariad, Enanta, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Novartis.
Shair earned his BS in Chemistry from the University of Rochester in 1990 and PhD in 1995 from Columbia University working with Samuel Danishefsky. From 1995-1997 he was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard with Stuart Schreiber
In his spare time, Matt likes to travel with his family, cook them good dinners and play tennis. He is especially happy when playing classic rock on his electric guitar, but has begun to give up his dream of replacing Jimmy Page in Led Zeppelin.