News Archive


Whitehead Genome Center Accelerates Effort to Build Haplotype Map

October 29, 2002

The Whitehead Institute Center for Genome Research is part of an international research consortium that today launched a $100 million public-private effort to build the next generation map of the human genome. Called a "haplotype map," this effort is expected to make it easier, faster, and perhaps cheaper to find genes that predispose us to common diseases such as diabetes and cancer.

Scientists Produce the Script for Life

October 24, 2002

Imagine popping a movie into the VCR or DVD player and watching a list of credits for two hours—no movie, no plot, no dialogue—just the cast. That’s the problem facing contemporary biology. The human genome project has provided researchers with a growing list of genes—basically a cast of thousands of characters, running life inside the cell. But the key to understanding life, both in health and sickness, is the script that outlines how these cellular players interact, communicate, and cue each other.

Lindquist Lab Sheds Light on How Prion Proteins Kill Neurons

October 17, 2002

Prion diseases—such as mad cow disease in cattle and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) in humans—have stumped scientists for decades with a complex "whodunit" complete with many suspects and a missing murder weapon. Unlike other infectious diseases that are linked to pathogens such as bacteria and viruses, these diseases have a unique and mysterious connection to a misfolded protein.

SNPs Reveal Natural Selection in Human Populations

October 10, 2002

Some people carry better genetic armor for resisting infectious disease than others. For example, many Africans have allelic variants of several different genes that provide some resistance to malaria. Geneticists would like to know whether such resistance arose through selective pressure or merely represents random mutations that remain in the population.

David Sabatini Appointed to Whitehead Faculty

October 1, 2002

The Whitehead Institute recently welcomed David Sabatini as its newest faculty member. Sabatini, who joined the Institute in 1997 as a Whitehead Fellow, was named an Associate Member at Whitehead and an Assistant Professor in the biology department at MIT.

Genome Center Director Eric Lander to Visit His Holiness the Dalai Lama

September 30, 2002

The Genome Center got in touch with its spiritual side last week when it brought together Whitehead’s Tibetian employees—the largest Tibetan workforce in Cambridge—for afternoon tea. Almost fifty members of the Whitehead Tibetan community joined Genome Center Director Eric Lander to discuss his upcoming visit with His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Scientists Show Cloning Leads to Severe Dysregulation of Many Genes

September 11, 2002

New results from Rudolf Jaenisch’s lab at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research confirmed that the cloning process jeopardizes the integrity of an animal’s whole genome. Scientists had suspected this based on studying a mere dozen genes, but the current study, which will be reported online in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science this week, expansively surveyed 10,000 genes for abnormalities.

Bioimaging: Exploring Life in the Fourth Dimension

August 29, 2002

When Anton Van Leeuwenhoek first transformed a small glass ball into a magnifying lens, he opened a new window into the world of scientific discovery. Four centuries and millions of magnifications later, researchers are able to see the inner workings of the cell and use their observations to unravel many mysteries of life.

Whitehead Member Gerald Fink Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

August 5, 2002

Whitehead Member Gerald Fink got a rousing "thank you" today from his colleagues in the field of yeast biology. The heartfelt recognition came in the form of the inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award given at the biennial Yeast Genetics and Molecular Biology Meeting in Madison, Wisconsin. The breadth and depth of his achievements made the decision to select Fink as the first recipient of the award "a slam dunk" choice, said Tom Fox of Cornell University and a former student of Fink's, who presented the award.

Harvey Lodish Elected President of the American Society for Cell Biology

July 20, 2002

Whitehead Member Harvey F. Lodish was elected President of the 10,000-member American Society for Cell Biology for the year 2004. Since its founding in 1960, the American Society for Cell Biology has brought together experts in the varied facets of cell biology to advance scientific knowledge, increase public awareness of the importance of biomedical research, and guide national policy on the education, training, and career development of biomedical researchers.

Queen of England Honors BOA Member Una S. Ryan

June 24, 2002

Britain's Queen Elizabeth the Second, in her Birthday Honors List, recently awarded Whitehead Board of Associates (BOA) member Una Scully Ryan, with the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for her services to research, development, and the promotion of biotechnology.

Systems Biology: Creating the Circuits of Life

June 17, 2002

Whitehead Fellow Trey Ideker often thinks of himself as an engineer and the cell as a circuit. “I see myself looking at all the wires at once to understand how they work with each other and then making the wiring diagrams,” he says. “I want to know which wires are used for what—for example, which wires short-circuit to cause cancer and which need to stay active to keep the body healthy.” Ideker’s approach to understanding cell circuitry, an approach known as systems biology, is part of a new research initiative that is shifting biological science from the local to the global, from the parts to the whole.


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