Genes and Genomes

Whitehead Institute has been a trailblazer in the fields of genomics and genetics since it became the single largest public contributor to the Human Genome Project—and the Institute continues to be a world leader in genetics and genomics research.

Colorful dots on a black background.

Mouse embryos showing markers of methylation


Yuelin Song/Whitehead Institute

Our Focus

Genes, the segments of DNA that code for proteins, are the instruction manuals for biological organisms. Fundamental aspects of biomedical research include decoding those instructions and discovering how and when they are carried out, which allows researchers to understand the programming behind our biology, from how genes encode basic cellular functions to how they contribute to disease when the programming, or its execution, goes awry. Whitehead Institute researchers are using the latest tools, screens, and evolutionary comparisons, among other means, to match genes to their functions and shed light on the essential programming behind our biology.

Illustration of person pulling down a segment of DNA

Steven Lee/Whitehead Institute

Three fates hold a string of DNA.

Gus Rosen-Bernstein/Whitehead Institute

Major Achievements
Sequenced the Y chromosome

In 2003, Whitehead Institute member David Page succeeded in mapping the entire genome of the human Y chromosome, in collaboration with the Genome Institute at Washington University

Human Genome Project

Institute alumnus Eric Lander and colleagues provided the largest non-governmental contribution of sequencing data for The Human Genome. 

Correcting genetic defects

Member Rudolf Jaenisch combined gene cloning and embryonic stem cells to correct a genetic defect in mice in 2002.