Stephen Tapscott, M.D., Ph.D.

faculty member

Stephen Tapscott, M.D., Ph.D.

Human Biology Division, Fred Hutch

Clinical Research Division, Fred Hutch

Fax: 206.667.6524
Mail Stop: C3-168

Dr. Stephen Tapscott studies how genes are turned on and off and how this activity goes awry in certain diseases. He focuses on the activity of certain “master” genes that control the development of muscle and nerve cells. He is a leader in understanding how the normal process of cell development is altered in two diseases: muscular dystrophy, a class of inherited diseases in which muscles weaken and atrophy over time; and rhabdomyosarcoma, a type of cancer that arises from muscle cells. Dr. Tapscott’s team made a breakthrough in unlocking the molecular secrets behind one of the most common forms of muscular dystrophy, facioscapulohumeral dystrophy, or FSHD. Dr. Tapscott found that in people with FSHD, proteins normally present in early development are erroneously activated in muscle cells, which prevents muscle-cell regeneration and possibly triggers a damaging immune attack against the muscles.

Other Appointments & Affiliations

Professor, Neurology
University of Washington School of Medicine


M.D., University of Pennsylvania, 1982

Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania, 1982

B.A., Hampshire College, 1975

Research Interests

The Tapscott Lab studies gene transcription and expression in normal development and disease, with an additional emphasis on rhabdomysarcomas (cancers with characteristics of skeletal muscle) and human muscular dystrophies. Other research areas include gene and cell therapies for muscular dystrophy, and the biology of triplet repeats and their associated diseases.

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Dr. Tapscott in the News

Pathogenic RNAs in muscular dystrophy

Science Spotlight - February 17, 2020

DUX4 lights up its own airstrip

Science Spotlight - December 16, 2019

DUX4 rears its head in cancers to fend off the immune system

Science Spotlight - September 16, 2019

FSHD myoblasts are powerless when faced with stress

Science Spotlight - March 18, 2019

For the Media

The Media Relations team at Fred Hutch is available to assist members of the news media who would like to arrange interviews with faculty.

Email or call 206.667.2210