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To avoid widespread famine and malnutrition, the world must double current food production by 2050, and do so in the face of climate-driven pressures. That is why a key thrust of the Whitehead Initiative on Biology, Health, and Climate Change focuses on plant seeds, the source of more than two-thirds of calories currently consumed globally.

Climate change and economic development are increasing our risk of being infected by parasites and harmful viruses and bacteria. Whitehead Institute researchers are leveraging their expertise to better assess where pathogens will spread and evaluate their risk to humans.

Whitehead Institute researchers are studying how cells respond to stress, including dramatic shifts in temperature and in the availability of food and water. This knowledge is needed to develop approaches to protect human wellbeing in a changing climate.

The Whitehead Initiative on Biology, Health, and Climate Change (WIBHC), launched in 2021. It is a multidisciplinary program that explores the biological and health effects of climate change and that builds the foundations for biomedical and biotech interventions that could help prevent, mitigate, or treat detrimental impacts on human health. 

Jesse Platt is a postdoc in Whitehead Institute Member Richard Young’s lab studying mechanisms of insulin resistance. He is also a practicing gastroenterologist and hepatologist. We sat down with Jesse to learn more about him and his experiences in and out of the lab.

Meet Anthony (Tony) Mahowald, a former university professor and department chair, and—during a scientific career spanning nearly 70 years—a bench researcher who has explored the structure of pole cells, polar granules, and oogenesis in Drosophila. At 90 years old, Tony is still working in the lab here at Whitehead Institute.

Research from Whitehead Institute Member David Page’s lab shows that the so-called inactive X chromosome, the mostly silent second X chromosome in females, plays a much more active role in gene expression and gene regulation than previously thought, with implications for how we think about sex differences in health and disease.