Genetics and Genomics

Illustration of observatory focused on DNA constellation


The completion of the Human Genome Project, which revealed nearly the full sequence of human DNA, brought with it the expectation that a spectrum of diseases would be causally linked to a specific underlying genetic basis. In reality, the picture has proven to be far more complicated. Explore the latest research into the cutting-edge fields of genetics and genomics and how it’s changing the way scientists think about the causes and treatments of some of our most intractable diseases.

How Toxoplasma switches between its fast and slow-growing forms

Toxoplasma gondii causes a disease called toxoplasmosis, which can be spread to humans from infected cats. It's one of the most common human parasites. It has been a challenge for scientists to figure out how it switches from its fast-growing state that causes life-threatening infections to its chronic, slow-growing form — a process called differentiation. Here, Whitehead Institute Member Sebastian Lourido discusses how the parasite pulls off this life cycle switch.



Genetic approaches to study Toxoplasma gondii

Sebastian Lourido explains why Toxoplasma gondii is an excellent system to study Apicomplexa, the phylum that includes the parasites that cause toxoplasmosis, malaria, and cryptosporidiosis.


CRISPR: A word processor for editing the genome

This Youreka Science video explores how a group of scientists made a major breakthrough in understanding the bacterial immune response, called the CRISPR/Cas system, and discovered a way to utilize this system to create a new technique to specifically change the DNA sequence of any organism with great ease.

Read about the Research
Collage of core facilities
Meet the Scientists Keeping Whitehead Institute’s Core Facilities Thriving

Behind the scenes of each new discovery made at Whitehead Institute is a committed group of scientists who keep the Institute’s core facilities running. The cores enable the Institute’s researchers to get the data they need, to frame their questions in the most insightful ways, and to take advantage of the latest technologies in each field. 

Illustration of a hairpin loop from a pre-mRNA

Whitehead Institute scientists have been uncovering the roles of regulatory RNA in controlling gene expression.

A person holds a pot of purple smoke with DNA in it

Whitehead Institute researchers are uncovering new ways that genes are regulated that upend existing paradigms of gene expression and provide important insights into health and disease. This collection of stories and multimedia explores that research.

Toxoplasma gondii parasite clusters in a host cell

Researchers at Whitehead Institute have discovered the master regulator necessary for the pervasive parasite Toxoplasma gondii to chronically infect its host.

Three fates hold a string of DNA.

Whitehead team offers sweeping view of messenger RNA stability and degradation across thousands of genes.

Slide showing planarian muscle cells expressing 19 position control genes

Whitehead Institute researchers investigate methylation, the chemical tags that help define gene expression during development and disease.