Functional Genomics Platform

Stacks of petri dishes with cell cultures
About FGP

The Functional Genomics Platform at Whitehead Institute provides expertise and reagents to researchers interested in implementing large-scale CRISPR-Cas9 screens in mammalian cells. We use the CRISPR-Cas9 system to identify modulators of different cellular phenotypes, including viability or the output of a variety of reporter systems.

We also work with researchers to develop and adapt new screening tools.

The FGP is directed by Heather Keys, Ph.D.

Jonathan Weissman, Ph.D. is the faculty advisor for the FGP.

On this website, you can find more details about our work, our team, contact information, and protocols.


Our Work

We assist researchers at all stages of the screening process, including planning, implementation and validation of genetic screens:

  • Experimental design
  • Technology development
  • sgRNA library design and propagation
  • Virus preparation for optimization and screening
  • Vector design
  • Sequencing library preparation
  • Data analysis
  • Follow-up strategies

  • Rossiter NJ, Huggler KS, Adelmann CH, Keys HR, Soens RW, Sabatini DM, Cantor JR. CRISPR screens in physiologic medium reveal conditionally essential genes in human cells. Cell Metab. 2021 Jun 1;33(6):1248-1263.e9. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2021.02.005. Epub 2021 Mar 1. PubMed PMID: 33651980. PubMed Central PMCID: PMC8172426.
  • Zou Y, Henry WS, Ricq EL, Graham ET, Phadnis VV, Maretich P, Paradkar S, Boehnke N, Deik AA, Reinhardt F, Eaton JK, Ferguson B, Wang W, Fairman J, Keys HR, Dančík V, Clish CB, Clemons PA, Hammond PT, Boyer LA, Weinberg RA, Schreiber SL. Plasticity of ether lipids promotes ferroptosis susceptibility and evasion. Nature. 2020 Sep;585(7826):603-608. doi: 10.1038/s41586-020-2732-8. Epub 2020 Sep 16. PubMed PMID: 32939090; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC8051864.
  • Tsvetkov P, Detappe A, Cai K, Keys HR, Brune Z, Ying W, Thiru P, Reidy M, Kugener G, Rossen J, Kocak M, Kory N, Tsherniak A, Santagata S, Whitesell L, Ghobrial IM, Markley JL, Lindquist S, Golub T. Mitochondrial metabolism promotes adaptation to proteotoxic stress. Nature Chemical Biology. 2019 Jul; 15(7):681-689. doi: 10.1038/s41589-019-0291-9
  • *Li Y, *Muffat J, *Javed AO, *Keys HR, Lungjangwa T, Bosch I, Khan M, Virgilio MC, Gehrke L, Sabatini DM, Jaenisch R. Genome-wide CRISPR screen for Zika virus resistance in human neural cells. PNAS . 2019 Apr 24. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1900867116
    *equal contribution
  • Kory N, Wyant GA, Prakash G, Uit de Bos J, Bottanelli F, Pacold ME, Chan SH, Lweis CA, Wang T, Keys HR, Guo YE, Sabatini DM. SFXN1 is a mitochondrial serine transporter required for one-carbon metabolism. Science 362(6416). 2018 Nov 16. doi: 10.1126/science.aat9528
  • Kanarek N, Keys HR, Cantor JR, Lewis CA, Chan SH, Kunchok T, Abu-Remaileh M, Freinkman E, Schweitzer LD, Sabatini DM. Histidine catabolism is a major determinant of methotrexate sensitivity. Nature 559:632-636. 2018 July 11. doi: 10.1038/s41586-018-0316-7



Head and shoulders shot of Heather Keys

Heather Keys, Ph.D.



Stephanie Esonwune, Strand Therapeutics
Olena Fedoniuk, Tokyo Institute of Technology Technical Support Staff and GLOBIS MBA student
Mehreen Khan, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals
Maria Virgilio, University of Michigan PhD Program
Keya Viswanathan

Former and Current Masters Students

Nicole Eischer, Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics PhD Program
Manuel Mastel, DKFZ Helmholz International Graduate School for Cancer Research PhD Program



    Here we will post basic protocols for screening and related experiments. Coming soon!

    Any questions? Contact us.

    • Coming Soon!: Small-scale Lentiviral Preparation
    • Coming Soon!: Large-scale Lentiviral Preparation
    • Coming Soon!: Titer Test
    • Coming Soon!: Transduction Test for New Cell Lines
    • Coming Soon!: Genomic DNA Miniprep
    • Coming Soon!: Genomic DNA Maxiprep
    • Coming Soon!: Sequencing Library Preparation
    • Coming Soon!: Bead Cleanup and dsDNA Quantification
    • Coming Soon!: Large-scale Lentiviral Preparation
    • Coming Soon!: Transduction Conditions for Cancer Cell Lines
    • Coming Soon!: Materials Reference List


    Join Us

    We are looking for motivated people to work with us.

    If you are a motivated Masters student searching for an exciting internship experience, contact us!


    Contact Us

    Please contact Heather Keys, Ph.D. by email with all questions.

    We are located at the Whitehead Institute, 455 Main Street, Cambridge, MA.