Stephen P. Goff, PhD

  • Higgins Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics
  • Professor of Microbiology & Immunology
Profile Headshot


Goff has been interested in viruses and their interactions with the host throughout his career. Over the past three decades, the Goff laboratory at Columbia University has focused on the replication of the mammalian retroviruses, including the Moloney murine leukemia virus and human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1), aiming to define the functions of each of the viral gene products and to identify host proteins with which the viruses interact. His group studies all aspects of the viral life cycle. He has also made a major effort toward the characterization of the Abelson murine leukemia virus oncogene, its regulation, and its downstream signaling pathway. The laboratory makes use of the two-hybrid system, proteomic methods, and somatic cell genetics to identify host proteins that impact the viruses, including those that either restrict or enhance virus replication. The lab has identified and characterized a novel host protein, termed ZAP for zinc finger antiviral protein, that blocks gene expression of many viruses, including the murine leukemia viruses, Ebola, Sindbis, and HIV-1, by degrading viral mRNAs. Lab members have also characterized a protein complex responsible for the silencing of retroviral DNAs in embryonic stem (ES) cells, and identified a zinc finger protein, ZFP809, as an ES-cell specific recognition molecule that binds the proviral DNA and brings TRIM28 to locally modify chromatin.

Goff is strongly committed to the training of students and fellows and preparing them for careers in science. To date he has trained about thirty-five PhD students and a similar number of postdoctoral fellows. His alumni include heads of laboratories at universities in the US, UK, Australia, Chile, China, Taiwan, and Israel; department chairs; investigators at the NIH; and scientists at many biotech companies and large pharmaceutical firms.

Academic Appointments

  • Higgins Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics
  • Professor of Microbiology & Immunology

Credentials & Experience

Education & Training

  • AB, 1973 Biophysics, Amherst College
  • PhD, 1978 Biochemistry, Stanford University Medical Center
  • Fellowship: 1981 Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Committees, Societies, Councils

1995 Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences

1997 Fellow, American Academy of Microbiology

2006 Member, National Academy of Sciences

2006 Member, National Academy of Medicine

2007 Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science

Honors & Awards

1982-1986 Irma T. Hirschl Career Development Award; 1982-1985 Searle Scholarship Award; 1985 Harold and Golden Lamport Research Award, Columbia Univ.; 1990, 2003 MERIT award, NCI; 1991 Dean's Distinguished Lecture in the Basic Sciences, Columbia Univ.; 1995 Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences 1996 Honorary degree (Doctor of Science), Amherst College; 1997 Fellow, American Academy of Microbiology; 2006 Member, National Academy of Sciences; 2006 Member, National Academy of Medicine; 2007 Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science; 2007 Shipley Lecture, Harvard Microbiology Department; 2008 S. Edward Selkin Lecture, University of Texas SW; 2010 Distinguished Research Career Award, Ohio State University; 2015 Hilleman Lecture, University of Chicago, Chicago IL; 2017 D.C. White Research and Mentoring Award of the ASM; 2017 Prince Hitachi Prize in Comparative Oncology


Molecular Biology of retrovirus replication; tyrosine kinases and signal transduction pathways.

Selected Publications

  • Wolf, D., and Goff, S.P. (2007) TRIM28 mediates primer binding site-targeted silencing of murine leukemia virus in embryonic cells. Cell 131, 46-57.
  • Studamire, B., and Goff, S.P. (2008) Host proteins interacting with the Moloney murine leukemia virus integrase: multiple transcriptional regulators and chromatin binding factors. Retrovirology 5, 48.
  • Wolf, D., and Goff, S.P. (2009) Embryonic stem cells use ZFP809 to silence retroviral DNAs. Nature 458, 1201-1204.
  • Valente, S.T., Gilmartin, G.M., Venkataraman, K., and Goff, S.P. (2009) HIV-1 mRNA 3' end processing is distinctively regulated by eIF3f, CDK11, and splice factor 9G8. Mol. Cell 36, 279-289.
  • Hogg, J.R., and Goff, S.P. (2010) Upf1 senses 3'UTR length to potentiate mRNA decay. Cell 143, 379-389.
  • Schlesinger, S., Lee, A., Wang, G.Z., Green, L., and Goff, S.P. (2013) Proviral silencing in embryonic cells is regulated by Yin Yang 1. Cell Rep. 4, 50-58.
  • Sabo, Y., Walsh, D., Barry, D.S., Tinaztepe, S., de los Santos, K., Goff, S.P., Gundersen, G.G., and Naghavi, M.H. (2013) HIV-1 induces the formation of stable microtubules to enhance early infection. Cell Host Microbe 14, 535-546.
  • Arriagada, G., Metzger, M.J., Muttray, A., Sherry, J., Reinisch, C., Street, C., Lipkin, W.I., and Goff, S.P. (2014) Activation of transcription and retrotransposition of a novel retroelement, Steamer, in neoplastic hemocytes of the mollusk Mya arenaria. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 111, 14175-14180.
  • Metzger, M.J., Reinisch, C., Sherry, J., and Goff, S.P. (2015) Horizontal transmission of clonal cancer cells causes leukemia in soft-shell clams. Cell 161, 255-263.
  • Metzger, M.J., Villalba, A., Carballal, M.J., Iglesias, D., Sherry, J., Reinisch, C., Muttray, A.F., Baldwin, S.A., and Goff, S.P. (2016) Widespread transmission of independent cancer lineages within multiple bivalve species. Nature 534, 705-709.
  • Wang, G.Z, Wang, Y., and Goff, S.P. (2016) Histones are rapidly loaded onto unintegrated retroviral DNAs soon after nuclear entry. Cell Host Microbe 20, 798-809.
  • Zhu, Y., Luo, S., Tong, L., and Goff, S.P. (2017) Heme oxygenase 2 binds myristate to negatively regulate retrovirus assembly and TLR4 signaling. Cell Host Microbe 21, 220-230.
  • Wang, C., and Goff, S.P. (2017) Differential control of retrovirus silencing in embryonic cells by proteasomal regulation of the ZFP809 retroviral repressor. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 114, E922-E930.
  • Zhu, Y., Wang, G.Z., Cingöz, O., and Goff, S.P. (2018) NP220 mediates silencing of unintegrated retroviral DNA. Nature 564, 278-282.