Research Achievements

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

Schematic of looping chromosomal structure

December 21, 2015

SCIENTISTS IDENTIFY MTOR PATHWAY MUTATIONS IN FOLLICULAR LYMPHOMA

A team of researchers from Whitehead Institute and Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) have identified in follicular lymphoma tumors a mutated protein that could serve as a biomarker to predict therapeutic response.


 


Genetics + Genomics

Schematic of looping chromosomal structure

DECEMBER 10, 2015

3D MAP OF HUMAN GENOME REVEALS RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN MUTATIONS AND DISEASE DEVELOPMENT

Whitehead Institute researchers have created a map of the DNA loops that comprise the three dimensional (3D) structure of the human genome and contribute to gene regulation in human embryonic stem cells. The location of genes and regulatory elements within this chromosomal framework will help scientists better navigate their genomic research, establishing relationships between mutations and disease development.


Immune System

Diagram of CDPK1 in its active and inactive forms

August 24, 2015

Tiny antibodies point to vulnerability in disease-causing parasites

By teasing apart the structure of an enzyme vital to the parasites that cause toxoplasmosis and malaria, Whitehead Institute scientists have identified a potentially ‘drugable’ target that could prevent parasites from entering and exiting host cells.

Nervous System
Development + Function

Photo of chimera mouse with dark hairs

january 25, 2016

NEW MOUSE-HUMAN MODELING SYSTEM ENABLES STUDY OF DISEASE DEVELOPMENT IN VIVO

Whitehead Institute researchers have created a new mouse-human modeling system that could be used to study neural crest development as well as the modeling of a variety of neural crest related diseases, including such cancers as melanoma and neurofibromatosis. 


Protein Function

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.

Stem Cells +
Therapeutic Cloning

Diagram of cancer versus normal stem cells

September 3, 2015

Variations in cell programs control cancer and normal stem cells

In the breast, cancer stem cells and normal stem cells can arise from different cell types and tap into distinct yet related stem cell programs, according to Whitehead Institute researchers. The differences between these stem cell programs may be significant enough to be exploited by future therapeutics.

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