Biomedical Research Foundation Academy Of AthensAcademy Of Athens
Scientific Personnel

Dimitris Dimitris Thanos, PhD
Researcher A', President of Scientific Board

Telephone : +30 210 6597 244
Fax : +30 210 6597 545
e-mail :

Center :

Basic Research

Lab Site :

Thanos Lab

Brief Bio

Dr. Dimitris Thanos earned his B.S. degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Athens in 1983.  He then begun his postgraduate studies and earned his M.S. degree in Molecular Biology in 1985 and his Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from the University of Crete-Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, Heraklion.  He had extensive training as a Postdoctoral Fellow initially initially at the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at the Foundation for Research and Technology in Crete and at the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in Dr. Tom Maniatis’ laboratory at Harvard University.  He received a postdoctoral career fellowship award from the Lucille P. Markey Foundation (1992-1994).  In 1995, Dr. Thanos was appointed Assistant Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics at the College of Physicians & Surgeons of Columbia University.  In 2000, he was promoted to Associate Professor with Tenure.  He was instrumental in reforming the Columbia University’s graduate course Advanced Molecular Biology and served as course Director until 2003.  In 2001 he was elected the first Director of the newly founded Institute of Molecular Biology and Genetics at the Biomedical Sciences Research Center “Alexander Fleming”, Greece.  In 2003 Dr. Thanos resigned from his position at Columbia and carried out his duties at Fleming until 2006.  Currently, Dr. Thanos holds the position of Adjunct Assoc. Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics at the College of Physicians & Surgeons of Columbia University, and from 2006 he is the Director of the Center of Basic Research and the Chairman of the Scientific Board at the Biomedical Research Foundation of the Academy of Athens, Greece.  In 2004 he was elected EMBO (European Molecular Biology Organization) and in 2012 member of the European Academy of Sciences (Europaea Academia).

Honors / Awards

  • Undergraduate Thesis Award (1983).  University of Athens.
  • Special Graduate Studies Fellow Award.  University of Crete (1984)
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship Career Development Award from the Lucille P. Markey Charitable Trust, 1992-1994.  Harvard University.
  • Irma T. Hirschl Career Scientist Award, 1996-2001. Columbia University
  • March of Dimes-Basil O’Connor Starter Research Scholar Award, 1996-1998.Columbia University
  • Pew Scholars Award in Biomedical Sciences 1996-2001. Columbia University
  • Scholar of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of America 2000-2005. Columbia University
  • Christopher Lambort Award in Basic Sciences (2001). Columbia University
  • Dean’s Distinguished Award in Basic Sciences (2003). Columbia University
  • European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) Elect Member (2004). BSRC Al. Fleming
  • National Representative in European Union for Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) (2006-). BRFAA
  • Life Sciences Panel Member of the European Research Council (2007-present). BRFAA
  • Elected member in the Federation European Biochemical Society (FEBS) Publication Committee (2010). BRFAA
  • Elected Council Member of the European Molecular Biology Organization (2010). BRFAA
  • Excellence Science Award from the Greek Secreteriat for Research and Technology, Ministry of Education and Life-long Learning (2012). BRFAA
  • Elected member of the European Academy of Sciences-Academia Europaea (2012). BRFAA
  • Member of the National Biomedical Sciences Research Council (2014)

Major Scientific Contributions

Dr. Thanos has made pioneering and seminal contributions in the elucidation of the mechanisms by which human genes are turned on and off in response to environmental stimuli and during development and cellular differentiation.  More specifically:

  • He discovered the existence of enhanceosomes, i.e. the higher order three-dimensional structures composed of control DNA elements present in enhancer regions and transcription factor conglomerates.  He elucidated the mechanisms of enhanceosome function in activation of gene transcription and provided for the first time a nearly complete molecular picture of the “translation” of the enhancer DNA code to specific chromatin dynamic modifications involved in the control of transcription initiation.
  • He discovered the existence of the architectural transcription factors, which function by promoting the assembly of enhanceosomes and not by activating/repressing transcription directly.
  • He provided for the first time a nearly complete molecular picture of how the enhancer DNA code is interpreted by transcription factors and chromatin modifying complexes to control gene expression.
  • An additional notable and more recent accomplishment is the identification of a novel molecular mechanism involving interchromosmal interactions underlined gene expression stochasticity in genetically identical cell populations of the immune system.

Selected Publications

Agalioti, T., Lomvardas, S., Parekh, B.S., Yie, J., Maniatis, T., and Thanos, D.  (2000).  Ordered Recruitment of Chromatin Modifying and Basal Factors to the IFN-b promoter.  Cell 103, 667-678.

Munshi, N., Agalioti, T., Lomvardas, S, Merika, M., Chen, G., and Thanos, D.  (2001)  Coordination of a Transcriptional Switch by HMG I(Y) Acetylation.  Science 293, 1133-1137.

Lomvardas, S., and Thanos, D.  (2001).  Nucleosome sliding via TBP DNA binding in vivo.  Cell 106, 685-696.

Agalioti, T., Chen, G., and Thanos, D.  (2002).  Deciphering the Transcriptional histone acetylation code for a human gene.  Cell 111, 381-392.

Lomvardas, S., and Thanos, D.  (2002).  Modifying gene expression programs by altering core promoter chromatin architecture.  Cell 110, 261-271. 

Guan, Z., Giustietto, M., Lomvardas, S., Thanos, D., and Kandel, E.  (2002).  Integration of long-term-memory-related synaptic plasticity involves bidirectional regulation of gene expression and chromatin structure.  Cell 111, 483-493

Agelopoulos, M., and Thanos, D. (2006).  Epigenetic Determination of a cell specific gene expression program by ATF-2 and the histone variant macroH2A. EMBO J 25, 4843-4853. 

Koutroubas, G., Merika, M., and Thanos, D.  (2007).  Bypassing the requirements for epigenetic modifications in gene transcription by increasing enhancer strength.  Mol. Cell. Biol 28, 926-938.

Prinarakis, E., Chantzoura, E., Thanos, D., and Spyrou G.  (2008).  S-glutathionylation of IRF3 regulates IRF3-CBP interaction and activation of the IFNbeta pathway.  EMBO J. 27, 865-875.

Apostolou, E., and Thanos, D. (2008).  Virus infection induces NF-kB-dependent Interchromosomal associations mediating monoallelic IFN-b gene expression. Cell 134, 85-96

Nolis, I., McKay, D., Mantouvalou, E., Lomvardas, S., Merika, M., and Thanos, D.  (2009). Transcription factors mediate long range enhancer-promoter interactions. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 106, 20227-20227.

Antonaki, A., Demetriades, C., Polyzos, A., Banos, A., Vatsellas, G., Lavigne, M., Apostolou, E., Mantouvalou, E., Aggelopoulos, M., Papadopoulou, D., Mosialos, G., and Thanos, D.  (2011).  Genomic analysis reveals a novel NF-kB binding site in Alu-repetitive elements. J. Biol. Chem. 286, 38768-38782.

Banos A, Agelopoulos M, and Thanos D. (2013). Stochastic responses are not left to pure "chance".  Cell 155, 499-512


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