Metabolism is essential for life; it’s the set of chemical reactions that keep a body running. Researchers at Whitehead Institute are discovering a wealth of information on metabolism and its connections to health and disease.

An illustration of a person shining a flashlight onto molecules.

Molecule illustration.


Steven Lee/Whitehead Institute

Our Focus

Metabolism is the sum of the vast number of biochemical reactions that take place in our body to regulate cell growth and energy storage. As such it is relevant to many aspects of human health, including cancer and obesity-related diseases. Whitehead Institute researchers are discovering the components of these pathways and how they work—research with significant medical implications. Our researchers also study metabolism in plants, and have developed innovative methods to understand and replicate useful plant biology.

The FLCN-FNIP-Rag-Ragulator complex

Kacper Rogala/Whitehead Institute

Kava plants

Courtesy of Randy Travis

Major Achievements
Discovering the cell's growth mechanism

Former Whitehead Institute Member David Sabatini discovered the mTOR protein and mTOR growth regulatory pathway, which sense the presence of nutrients and communicate to the rest of the cell when to grow.

Modeling Parkinson's in yeast

In 2003, a team led by Former Director and Member Susan Lindquist used common baker’s yeast as a living test tube to model protein interactions under Parkinson's conditions.