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

Image of a breast cancer cell

april 11, 2018

STUDY SUGGESTS PERIOPERATIVE NSAIDS MAY PREVENT EARLY METASTATIC RELAPSE IN POST-SURGICAL BREAST CANCER PATIENTS

Mouse study links early metastasis to systemic inflammation caused by wound healing


 


Genetics + Genomics

Image of planarians

APRIL 19, 2018

NEW SINGLE-CELL DATABASE TO PROPEL BIOLOGICAL STUDIES

Whitehead team analyzes transcriptomes for roughly 70,000 cells in planarians, creates publicly available database to drive research in a variety of organisms and fields


Immune System

Design of red blood cell capable of carrying antigenic peptides

March 6, 2017

Cargo-carrying red blood cells alleviate autoimmune diseases in mice

Using red blood cells modified to carry disease-specific antigens, a team of scientists from Whitehead Institute and Boston Children’s Hospital have prevented and alleviated two autoimmune diseases—multiple sclerosis (MS) and type 1 diabetes—in early stage mouse models.  This research is an exciting step toward therapeutics for autoimmune diseases, which affect an estimated 23 million Americans.

Nervous System
Development + Function

Image of zebrafish

OCTOBER 6, 2017

GENETIC BODY/BRAIN CONNECTION IDENTIFIED IN GENOMIC REGION LINKED TO AUTISM

For the first time, Whitehead Institute scientists have documented a direct link between deletions in two genes—fam57ba and doc2a—in zebrafish and certain brain and body traits, such as seizures, hyperactivity, large head size, and increased fat content. Both genes reside in the 16p11.2 region of the genome, which has been linked to multiple brain and body disorders in humans, including autism spectrum disorder, developmental delays, seizures, and obesity.


Protein Function

Fluorescently-tagged IAPP oligomers can be seen trafficking through yeast cells

MARCH 28, 2018

STRUCTURE OF KEY GROWTH REGULATOR REVEALED

Researchers solve molecular structure of GATOR1 complex using cryo-electron microscopy

Stem Cells +
Therapeutic Cloning

Three-eyed planarians

MARCH 15, 2018

A BLUEPRINT FOR REGENERATION

Researchers at Whitehead Institute have uncovered a framework for regeneration that may explain and predict how stem cells in adult, regenerating tissue determine where to form replacement structures.

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