About Us

Whitehead Institute is a world-renowned non-profit research institution dedicated to improving human health through basic biomedical research. By cultivating a deeply collaborative culture and enabling the pursuit of bold, creative inquiry, Whitehead fosters paradigm-shifting scientific achievement. For more than 30 years, Whitehead faculty have delivered breakthroughs that have transformed our understanding of biology and accelerated development of therapies for such diseases as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s,  diabetes, and certain cancers.

Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Whitehead Institute was founded in 1982 by visionary industrialist and philanthropist Edwin C. “Jack” Whitehead, who was driven by a single vision: to assemble a cadre of the world’s finest biomedical researchers under one roof and eliminate virtually any impediment to their pursuit of scientific discovery. He sought to create a wholly independent, self-governing institution with a close affiliation with a leading research university. His plans came to fruition with the help of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) biology professor and Nobel Laureate David Baltimore, who worked to structure an affiliation agreement with MIT and who would become Whitehead Institute’s Founding Director.

Today, Whitehead is home to 16 principal investigators focused on biology’s most fundamental questions. Whitehead scientists run pioneering programs in cancer research, immunology, developmental biology, stem cell research, regenerative medicine, genetics, and genomics. Current pursuits include:

•            Understanding the role of cancer stem cells in tumor recurrence and metastasis

•            Investigating the origins of Parkinson’s disease

•            Developing new platforms for the use of stem cells in personalized medicine

•            Exploring the basic biology of fat cells to broaden understanding of obesity and diabetes

•            Using novel animal models to uncover the genetic basis of autism

Despite a faculty many times smaller than those of peer institutions, Whitehead Institute’s contributions to bioscience have long been second to none. Less than a decade after its founding, it was named the top research institution in the world in molecular biology and genetics, and over a recent 10-year period, papers published by Whitehead scientists had more impact in molecular biology and genetics than those from any of the 15 leading research universities and life sciences institutes in the United States.*

This record of disproportionate impact—a hallmark of Whitehead Institute—reflects not only the exceptional talent that Whitehead attracts, but also the potent influence of its uniquely supportive, collegial environment.

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*Source: Thomson Reuters data for the period 1999-2009; impact measured by number of citations per publication

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