Research Areas

Whitehead Institute research has delivered new understandings to fundamental problems in biomedicine and transformed the landscape of contemporary biology.

Over the years, Institute scientists have focused on human genetics, cancer, heart disease, immunology, and developmental biology. Whitehead was the core institution for one of the six original National Cooperative Vaccine Development Groups for AIDS (established by the National Institutes of Health to speed the development of an AIDS vaccine).

By the mid-1990s, the Whitehead/MIT Center for Genome Research emerged as the leading center for the newly organized U.S. Human Genome Project. The Center made the single largest contribution to the completion of the project by sequencing one-third of the reference human genome.

In recent years, Institute scientists have been recognized for their advances in stem cell research, protein folding, cancer stem cells, regenerative biology, disease modeling, non-coding RNAs and more.

For a glimpse at Whitehead contributions to these and other fields, click on the topical tabs above.


Cancer

Illustration of a mitochondrion

MAY 27, 2019

DRUG-RESISTANT CANCER CELLS CREATE OWN ACHILLES HEEL

Whitehead Institute and Broad Institute researchers determine that cancer cells commonly change their energy source, creating a weakness that the drug elesclomol exploits to resensitize cancer cells to proteasome inhibitors


 


Genetics + Genomics

David Li, Aarthi Vijayakumar, Deniz Atabay, Guy Bushkin, Michelle Sung, and Rebecca Li by a Saturn V rocket during a trip to NASA's Johnson Space Center

MAY 4, 2019

CRISPR IN SPACE

Whitehead Institute researchers lent their expertise and mentorship to Genes in Space, a challenge that invites students to propose experiments that will be carried out onboard the International Space Station


Immune System

Representation of the Zika virus's surface

APRIL 22, 2019

HOW TO BE A GOOD HOST (FOR ZIKA VIRUS)

Using a genome-wide CRISPR screen in neural progenitor cells, Whitehead Institute scientists uncover what the Zika virus needs to infect human cells

Nervous System
Development + Function

Illustration of a hand assembling a brain jigsaw puzzle

OCTOBER 9, 2018

ONLY IN YOUR HEAD

Researchers uncover how a ubiquitously expressed mutation causes a brain-specific disorder.


Protein Function

Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) cells lose form and fail to replicate after degradation of GAPM proteins.

January 23, 2019

How one parasite stays in shape

Researchers in Whitehead Institute Member Sebastian Lourido’s lab identify the linchpin proteins of parasite Toxoplasma gondii’s cytoskeleton.

Stem Cells +
Therapeutic Cloning

Photo of two planarians

APRIL 8, 2019

A SUPPORTIVE ROLE FOR PLANARIANS’ MULTIFACETED MUSCLE

In planarians, muscle is critical not only for movement and regeneration of body parts, but also for producing the body’s architectural support system around cell

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