skip to content

An Interdisciplinary Research Centre at the University of Cambridge



1992-1995    B.A. in Biochemistry (First Class) from the University of Cambridge (U.K.)

1995-1999    Ph.D. (Thesis Advisor: Rik Wierenga) from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Heidelberg (Germany)


Positions and experience

1999-2005       Postdoctoral Fellow with Prof. Stephen C. Harrison, Harvard Medical School

2005-2010       Assistant Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, Yale University

2010-2014       Associate Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, Yale University

2014-               Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow, Dept. of Medicine, University of Cambridge

2016-               Reader in Virology and Immunology, Dept. of Medicine, University of Cambridge


Our overarching goal is to gain a molecular understanding of how the cell recognizes cytosolic viral RNA and how it silences viral gene expression with the necessary sensitivity and specificity. We are applying a complementary set of biophysical, biochemical and cell biological approaches, with a focus on using high-resolution structural information to obtain detailed mechanistic insights with atomic-level detail. 


Our key goals are to understand:

​​​​​​​-how cells distinguish viral from endogenous nucleic acids
-how the immune response against double-stranded RNA is generated and amplified
-how cells recognize and silence integrated viral DNA

This will provide invaluable insights on fundamental principles of host-pathogen recognition, chromatin regulation and host-virus coevolution.


Key publications: 

Qin Yu, Alba Herrero del Valle*, Rahul Singh* & Yorgo Modis. MDA5 autoimmune disease variant M854K prevents ATP-dependent structural discrimination of viral and cellular RNA. bioRxiv Preprint: DOI: 10.1101/2021.02.01.429133

Christopher H. Douse, Iva A. Tchasovnikarova, Richard T. Timms, Anna V. Protasio, Marta Seczynska, Anna Albecka, Daniil M. Prigozhin, Jane Wagstaff, James C. Williamson, Stefan M.V. Freund, Paul J. Lehner* & Yorgo Modis* (2020) TASOR is a pseudo-PARP that directs HUSH complex assembly and epigenetic transposon control. Nat. Commun., 11, 4940.

Daniil Prigozhin, Christopher H. Douse, Laura E. Farleigh, Anna Albecka, Iva A. Tchasovnikarova, Richard T. Timms, Shun Oda, Frank Adolf, Stefan M.V. Freund, Sarah Maslen, Paul J. Lehner & Yorgo Modis (2020) Periphilin self-association underpins epigenetic silencing by the HUSH complex. Nucleic Acids Res., 48, 10313-10328.

Guido Stoll & Shun-ichiro Oda, Zheng-Shan Chong, Minmin Yu, Stephen H McLaughlin & Yorgo Modis (2019). Structure of the tripartite motif of KAP1/TRIM28 identifies molecular interfaces required for transcriptional silencing of retrotransposons. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 116, 15042-15051.

Qin Yu, Kun Qu & Yorgo Modis (2018). CryoEM structures of MDA5-dsRNA filaments at different stages of ATP hydrolysis Mol. Cell, 72, 999-1012. 

Christopher H. Douse, Yangci Liu, Stuart Bloor, Maria Shamin, Iva A. Tchasovnikarova, Richard T. Timms, Paul J. Lehner & Yorgo Modis (2018). Neuropathic mutations in MORC2 perturb GHKL ATPase dimerization dynamics and epigenetic silencing by multiple structural mechanisms. Nat. Commun., 9, 651. 

Michael K. Fenwick, Yue Li, Stephen Almo, Peter Cresswell*, Yorgo Modis* & Steven E. Ealick* (2017). Structural studies of viperin, an antiviral radical SAM enzyme. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A., 114, 6806.

Iva A. Tchasovnikarova, Richard T. Timms, Christopher H. Douse, Rhys C. Roberts, Gordon Dougan, Robert E. Kingston, Yorgo Modis & Paul J. Lehner (2017).  Hyper-activation of HUSH complex function by Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease mutation in MORC2. Nat. Genet., 9, 1035. 

Other publications: 

For a complete list of publications, see:

Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow
Reader in Virology and Immunology
Dr Yorgo   Modis

Contact Details

Department of Medicine
University of Cambridge
MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology
Francis Crick Avenue
01223 267282
Takes PhD students
Available for consultancy


Departments and institutes: 
Person keywords: 
Molecular Biology
Host-Pathogen Interaction
Innate Immunity
Virion assembly
Structural Biology
Toll-like receptors