News Archive

 

Johnson & Johnson Endows Whitehead Institute Professorship in Memory of Susan Lindquist, Accomplished Researcher and Role Model for Women in Science

November 16, 2016

The Susan Lindquist Chair for Women in Science will advance the work of women who are leaders in biomedical research and role models for emerging female scientists. It honors a singular scientist who blazed a path—for women and men alike—into new realms of discovery.

Heat shock regulator controlled by on/off switch and phosphorylation

November 10, 2016

Whitehead Institute researchers have determined how the master transcriptional regulator of the heat shock response, known as heat shock factor 1 (HSF1), is controlled in yeast. Understanding how HSF1 works, how it is regulated, and how to fine tune it in a cell-type specific way could lead to therapies for cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.

Susan Lindquist

Susan Lindquist, accomplished and beloved scientist, has died at age 67

October 28, 2016

Susan Lee Lindquist, Ph.D., Member and former Director of Whitehead Institute, and one of the nation’s most lauded scientists, yesterday succumbed to cancer. Her nearly 40-year career was defined by intellectually courageous, boundary-defying research and a passion for nurturing new generations of scientific talent. 

“Sue has meant so much to Whitehead as an institution of science, and as a community of scientists, and her passing leaves us diminished in so many ways,” reflects David C. Page, M.D., Director of Whitehead Institute and Professor of Biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). “She was a risk-taker and an innovator. She believed that if we were not reaching for things beyond our grasp, we were not doing our job as researchers; if we were not constantly striving for that which we could only imagine, we were not fulfilling our obligations to society as scientists.”

Images of yeast containing prion-like proteins and controls

Revising the meaning of “prion”

October 6, 2016

Prions are infamous for causing Creutzfeld-Jakob disease, fatal familial insomnia, and bovine spongiform encephalopathy, commonly known as mad cow’s disease. Yet, it’s not likely that’s all they’re good for. Using an unbiased screen in yeast, a team of Whitehead Institute and Stanford University scientists have identified dozens of prion-like proteins that could change the defining characteristics of these unusual proteins. 

Still images of a microglia-like cell branching

Derived neural immune cells enable new facet of neurodegeneration research

September 26, 2016

Whitehead Institute scientists have devised a protocol for pushing human pluripotent stem cells to become microglia—the specialized immune cells that maintain the brain and care for it after injury. Microglia play an important role in neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, and studying these cells has been very difficult until now.

Diagram of how editing methylation can change cells

Scientists use CRISPR/Cas9 to flip DNA methylation states in vivo

September 22, 2016

Whitehead Institute scientists have deciphered how to use a modified CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing system to change genes’ methylation state, thereby activating or silencing those genes. Proper methylation is critical for normal cellular operations and altered methylation has been linked to many diseases, including neurological disorders and cancer.

Image of mouse cerebellum section with cells having different imprinted methylation

Inherited parental methylation shifts over time, may have functional effects in the brain and other tissues

September 20, 2016

Inherited methylation—a form of epigenetic regulation passed down from parents to offspring—is far more dynamic than previously thought and may contribute to changes in the brain and other tissues over time. This finding by Whitehead Institute scientists challenges current understandings of gene regulation via methylation, from development through adulthood.  

Former Mass. Governor Deval Patrick, life sciences executive Amy Schulman join Whitehead Institute Board of Directors

September 15, 2016

Whitehead Institute announced today that Deval Patrick, a Bain Capital managing director and former Massachusetts governor, and Amy Schulman, a distinguished life sciences executive, have been elected to its Board of Directors.

Images of toxoplasma parasites inside of a host cell

Genome-wide Toxoplasma screen reveals mechanisms of parasitic infections

September 1, 2016

Whitehead Institute researchers have conducted the first genome-wide screen in Apicomplexa, a phylum of single-celled parasites that cause diseases such as malaria and toxoplasmosis. The screen sheds light into the vast, unstudied reaches of parasite genomes, uncovering for instance a protein common to all apicomplexans.

Microscope images of mitochondria

Novel method enables absolute quantification of mitochondrial metabolites

August 31, 2016

Whitehead Institute scientists have developed a method to quickly isolate mitochondria from mammalian cells and systematically measure the concentrations of mitochondrial metabolites. Mitochondrial dysfunction is found in several disorders, including Parkinson’s disease, cardiovascular disease, and mitochondrial diseases. Until now, peering into the inner metabolic workings of these vital organelles has been very challenging.

Images of yeast inside macrophages that have not and have been treated with Inz-5

Disrupting mitochondrial function could improve treatment of fungal infections

August 11, 2016

By identifying new compounds that selectively block mitochondrial respiration in pathogenic fungi, Whitehead Institute scientists have identified a potential antifungal mechanism that could enable combination therapy with fluconazole, one of today’s most commonly prescribed fungal infection treatments. Severe, invasive fungal infections have a mortality rate of 30-50% and cause an estimated 1.5 million deaths worldwide annually. Current antifungal therapies are hampered by the increasingly frequent emergence of drug resistance and negative interactions that often preclude combination use.

Whitehead Member Susan Lindquist

Whitehead’s Susan Lindquist to receive prestigious Albany Prize in Medicine

August 3, 2016

Whitehead Institute Member Susan Lindquist has been named one of three recipients of the Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research for 2016.

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