News Archive


Whitehead Members Peter S. Kim and Robert A. Weinberg Elected to the Institute of Medicine

October 19, 2000

Whitehead members Peter S. Kim and Robert A. Weinberg are among the sixty new members elected this year to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), a unit of the National Academy of Sciences. New members are elected based on their major contributions to health and medicine. Kim and Weinberg join Whitehead members Gerald R. Fink and Eric S. Lander, who are current members of the IOM.

Scientists Publish First Dense SNP Map of the Human Genome; SNP Total Exceeds 1.2 Million

September 27, 2000

Researchers at the Whitehead Institute and The Sanger Centre report their contributions to the methodology and progress of The SNP Consortium, an international effort to assemble and release the first high-resolution map of common variations in human DNA called single nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs. SNPs are the bedrock of human genetics: they can be used to track inheritance of any gene, contribute to the traits that make us unique, and underlie our susceptibilities to common diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. It is also believed that SNPs help explain why individuals respond differently to drugs.

Whitehead Institute Receives National Science Foundation Grant to Sequence Neurospora

September 26, 2000

The Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research has received a two-year, $5.25 million grant from the National Science Foundation to sequence the genome of the common laboratory fungus Neurospora crassa and to deposit the information in public databases.

Scientists Identify a Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) Responsible for Increased Risk of Diabetes

August 27, 2000

Researchers at the Whitehead Institute have shown that a common genetic variant increases the risk of contracting type 2 diabetes. The variant, a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in a gene called PPAR gamma, is carried by billions of people and helps to explain why some people are more likely than others to contract diabetes. The study, published in the September issue of Nature Genetics, has several implications: it offers new insights into the underlying causes of diabetes and more generally provides a blueprint for analyzing the role of SNPs in disease.

Men are not in Driver's Seat of Human Evolution

August 9, 2000

For more than half a century, the field of human genetics has harbored a gender bias about the relative contribution of males versus females to human evolution. Since 1947, when biologist J.B.S Haldane suggested that the rate of genetic mutation is much higher in the male germ line than in the female germ line, geneticists have credited males with much of the evolutionary changes that occurred in the 5 million years since human ancestors departed from chimpanzees.

Whitehead Human Genome Project and SNP Consortium Announce Collaboration To Identify New Genetic Markers for Disease and Enhance Utility of Human Genome "Working Draft"

July 11, 2000

The Human Genome Project (HGP) and The SNP Consortium today announced plans to generate a new set of human DNA sequence information that will contribute 125,000 to 250,000 validated and useful genetic markers known as single nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs. The information also will enhance the HGP working draft sequence of the human genome.

International Human Genome Sequencing Consortium Announces "Working Draft" of Human Genome

June 26, 2000

The Human Genome Project public consortium today announced that it has assembled a working draft of the sequence of the human genome — the genetic blueprint for a human being. This major milestone involved two tasks: placing large fragments of DNA in the proper order to cover all of the human chromosomes, and determining the DNA sequence of these fragments.

Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research Launches Fellowships in Computational Biology with Pfizer Central Research

February 4, 2000

The Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research today announced a new program for Computational Biology, a scientific discipline regarded by researchers as critical to advancing gene research. The Computational Biology Fellows Program at the Whitehead Institute, with funding and scientific support from Pfizer Central Research, will begin with two Fellows, who will conduct independent research at the interface of biology, computer science, and mathematics.

Recombinant Protein May Play Key Role in Treating Immunocompromised Patients

January 17, 2000

In a promising new advance in vaccine development, scientists have identified a protein fragment that is exceptionally potent in eliciting an immune response against infected cells and cancer cells. When scientists injected a vaccine containing this fragment into mice lacking a healthy immune system, the animals were able to mount a cellular immune response despite their compromised immune system.

Tracing the Evolution of Sex Chromosomes

October 29, 1999

Of the 46 human chromosomes, 44 are members of identical pairs. But two—the X and the Y—stand apart because they have no perfect match. Nevertheless, evolution has charged these two genetic loners with the critical task of sex determination: embryos with two X chromosomes develop into females, while embryos with an X and a Y chromosome develop into males.

New DNA Chip Method Could Improve Cancer Diagnosis

October 14, 1999

One of the biggest challenges in cancer treatment is choosing the right regimen for a given patient. Treatment strategies work differently for different tumors. In choosing effective treatments with minimal side effects, oncologists rely heavily on biopsy reports that diagnose the tumor type involved. However, even today, cancer diagnosis is done the old-fashioned way: by observing morphological changes in biopsies under the microscope. The method suffers from serious limitations because cancer cells that look similar under the microscope can follow different clinical courses and respond differently to therapy. Now, in a new study reported in Friday's Science,a team of Whitehead-led researchers reports the first systematic and objective approach for identifying and classifying tumor types.

Scientists Discover New Candidate Drugs for Treating HIV Infection

October 1, 1999

Scientists have achieved a major step toward finding a new class of oral drugs to treat HIV infection. They have identified a class of compounds that prevent HIV infection by stopping the virus at its port of entry into the cell. Unlike currently used drugs that target HIV at other points during its life cycle — after it has already infected the cell — these compounds lock into a vulnerable "pocket" in the HIV's coat protein, preventing its fusion with cell membranes and thereby its ability to enter and infect cells.


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