Cell Dynamics

Our researchers seek to understand the activity of and interactions between the many molecules that make up the complex world of the cell. They investigate how the molecules and specialized structures inside of our cells work in concert with each other, in a precisely choreographed dance, to ensure that biological processes happen when and how they should.

Colorful blobs surrounded by fibers.
Our Focus

Whitehead Institute scientists are studying cell division, an intricate process, every aspect of which must be executed correctly for normal growth and development. Our bodies each began as one cell that had to divide an astounding number of times to create the roughly 30 trillion cells that make up a human body--and billions of these cells continue to divide every day. By identifying the molecules involved in cell division, and determining how cells carry out the process, our researchers are improving our understanding of cell division in normal development and in turn how it may go awry in diseases like cancer.

Illustration of scientist cutting a cell in half with a pizza cutter
Illustration of a hang holding a purple cell.

Steven Lee

Normal cells transformed into cancerous ones
Major Achievements
Mapping the centromere

Institute Member Iain Cheeseman determined the structure of the centromere, a cellular component essential for chromosome replication. 

Deciphering condensate biology

Whitehead Institute Member Richard Young has made fundamental discoveries on the function and regulatory role of phase-separated condensates in cells.