News Archive

 

Researchers uncover a role for HSP90 in gene-environment interactions in humans

February 23, 2017

Researchers at Whitehead Institute have now uncovered a role for the protein-folding chaperone HSP90 in humans, not only as a modifier of the effects of mutations, but as a mediator of the impact of the environment on the function of mutant proteins. And these effects of HSP90 can alter the course of human diseases.

Researchers chart global genetic interaction networks in human cancer cells

February 2, 2017

Investigators at Whitehead Institute and the Broad Institute have succeeded in identifying the set of essential genes—those required for cellular proliferation and survival—in each of 14 human acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cell lines that had previously been characterized by genome sequencing. By combining their “gene essentiality map” with the existing genomic information, their study revealed liabilities in genetically defined subset of cancers that could be exploited for new therapies.

New Clues on the Basis of Parkinson’s Disease and Other “Synucleinopathies”

January 25, 2017

Parkinson’s disease (PD) and other “synucleinopathies” are known to be linked to the misfolding of alpha-synuclein protein in neurons. Less clear is how this misfolding relates to the growing number of genes implicated in PD through analysis of human genetics. Two new studies from researchers affiliated with Whitehead Institute and Massachusetts Institute of Technology explain how they used a suite of novel biological and computational methods to shed light on the question.

Sebastian Lourido appointed as a Member of Whitehead Institute and of the faculty of Massachusetts Institute of Technology

January 18, 2017

An emerging leader in investigations on deadly parasitic infections, Lourido’s appointment will further enhance one of the world’s most accomplished biomedical research institutes

Scientists engineer gene pathway to grow brain organoids with surface folding

January 3, 2017

Whitehead researchers provide insight into a specific gene pathway that appears to regulate the growth, structure, and organization of the human cortex. They also demonstrate that 3D human cerebral organoids--miniature, lab-grown versions of specific brain structures--can be effective in modeling the molecular, cellular, and anatomical processes of human brain development. And they suggest a new path for identifying the cells affected by Zika virus.

Naturally occurring mechanism of cancer drug-resistance may itself be a treatment target

December 26, 2016

The use of proteasome inhibitors to treat cancer has been greatly limited by the ability of cancer cells to develop resistance to these drugs. But Whitehead Institute researchers have found a mechanism underlying this resistance--a mechanism that naturally occurs in many diverse cancer types and that may expose vulnerabilities to drugs that spur the natural cell-death process.

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.

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