Research at Whitehead

Whitehead Institute provides researchers with the resources and freedom to follow their scientific instincts, form novel collaborations, and conduct high-risk research. While probing basic biological processes, the Institute’s 17 faculty Members and 4 Fellows develop innovative technologies and lay the foundation for projects that improve human health. They run pioneering programs in cancer, immunology, developmental biology, stem cell science, regenerative medicine, genetics, and genomics.




Research News

Diagram of how editing methylation can change cells

September 22, 2016

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

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

September 20, 2016

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

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.  

Images of toxoplasma parasites inside of a host cell

September 1, 2016

Genome-wide Toxoplasma screen reveals mechanisms of parasitic infections

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

August 31, 2016

Novel method enables absolute quantification of mitochondrial metabolites

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

August 11, 2016

Disrupting mitochondrial function could improve treatment of fungal infections

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.

Recent papers

August 29, 2016

Covalent targeting of remote cysteine residues to develop CDK12 and CDK13 inhibitors.

Nat Chem Biol. 2016 Aug 29.

August 25, 2016

Cell-type-specific alternative splicing governs cell fate in the developing cerebral cortex.

Cell. 2016 Aug 25;166(5):1147-1162.e15.

August 25, 2016

Absolute quantification of matrix metabolites reveals the dynamics of mitochondrial metabolism. 

Cell. 2016 Aug 25;166(5):1324-1337.e11.

All research papers

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