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 16 faculty Members and 2 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

Schematic showing how amino acid inputs control the activity of the growth-regulating mTORC1 pathway

October 8, 2015

Scientists discover essential amino acid sensor in key growth-regulating metabolic pathway

Whitehead Institute scientists have at last answered the long-standing question of how the growth-regulating pathway known as mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) detects the presence of the amino acid leucine—itself a key player in modulating muscle growth, appetite, and insulin secretion.

Diagram of antiparallel beta-sheet structure of the enzyme catalase:

October 8, 2015

Enhanced-sensitivity NMR could reveal clues on how proteins fold

Until now, it has been difficult to fully characterize the different structures that proteins can take on in their natural environments. However, using a new technique known as sensitivity-enhanced nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), Whitehead Institute and MIT researchers have shown that they can analyze the structure that a yeast protein forms as it interacts with other proteins in a cell.

Microscope image of a B lymphocyte showing the location of the mitochondria in relation to the nucleus and plasma membrane

October 5, 2015

Hydrogen peroxide induces signals that link the mitochondrial respiratory chain to specific cellular pathway

Countering the prevailing theory that cellular hydrogen peroxide signaling is broad and non-specific, Whitehead Institute scientists have discovered that this reactive oxygen species (ROS) in fact triggers a distinct signal transduction cascade under control of the mitochondrial respiratory chain—the Syk pathway—that regulates transcription, translation, metabolism, and the cell cycle in diverse cell types. Hydrogen peroxide and other ROS mediate cellular responses in aging and myriad common chronic diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer, and neurodegeneration. Understanding how these signals function may point to new therapy targets for these conditions.

September 24, 2015

New methodology tracks changes in DNA methylation in real time at single-cell resolution

Whitehead Institute researchers have developed a tool that allows scientists to monitor changes in DNA methylation over time in individual cells. Certain diseases, including cancer, cause changes in DNA methylation patterns, and the ability to document these alterations could aid in the development of novel therapies.

Recent papers

October 1, 2015

Efficient reprogramming of human fibroblasts and blood-derived endothelial progenitor cells using non-modified RNA for reprogramming and immune evasion.

Hum Gene Ther. 2015 Oct 1.

September 24, 2015

CDK7-dependent transcriptional addiction in triple-negative breast cancer.

Cell. 2015 Sep 24;163(1):174-86.

September 24, 2015

Tracing dynamic changes of DNA methylation at single-cell resolution.

Cell. 2015 Sep 24;163(1):218-29.

All research papers

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