Dr. Mitchison received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Biophysics from the University of California, San Francisco. During his postdoctoral work at the University of California, San Francisco with Dr. Marc Kirschner, he discovered dynamic Instability of microtubules, a fundamental aspect of cytoskeleton biology and since then has studied the biochemistry, dynamics and spatial organization of microtubules and actin filaments with a focus on cell division mechanisms. Much of his lab's work in this area is based on live fluorescence imaging and has been at the forefront of the application of novel optical methodologies to living cells.
In 1997 he moved to Harvard Medical School to Co-direct the Institute of Chemistry and Cell Biology, a collaboration between chemists and cell biologists, to develop and apply small molecule screening capabilities in academia. As part of this effort, Dr. Mitchison's developed a strong interest in cancer chemotherapy and in more rational approaches to drug development in general. In 2004 he co-founded a new department, Systems Biology, that aims to bring systematic and quantitative methods to bear on problems in basic cell biology and medicine and in 2011 he helped found the Systems Pharmacology initiative at Harvard Medical School, a major interest area within the department, co-Directed by Peter Sorger and himself.
Dr. Mitchison is the Hasib Sabbagh Professor of Systems Biology, co-Director of the Initiative in Systems Pharmacology, and Deputy Chair for the Department of Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School.