The weather outside is frightful, but science is so delightful

Curl up in front of a warm fireplace this winter and enjoy a refresher on some of the biology basics that underlie Whitehead Institute research.

A cartoon of chromosomes with the centromere and pericentrome labeled

Snow, sleet, or simply cold weather got you stuck inside today? Sounds like the perfect time for a crash course in biology! Whitehead Institute has compiled a collection of our basic science explainers and research summary pieces. Read on to get a refresher on the details of key biology concepts including RNA, model organisms, epigenetics, and regeneration. Then, feel free to visit our news page to learn about how Whitehead Institute researchers are exploring these subjects in more depth to gain new insights into cells, organisms, and human health and disease.

Basic explainers

Some of the most important tools in researchers’ toolkits are the model organisms they use to study biological questions. How do researchers decide which species, out of the millions that exist, to develop as models? Whitehead Institute researchers have had a hand in establishing and promoting the use of several model organisms over the years.

Whitehead Institute researchers unravel the unique biology of apicomplexans — the parasites responsible for malaria, toxoplasmosis, and other diseases impacting global health.

Research summaries

Whitehead Institute researchers are uncovering new ways that genes are regulated that upend existing paradigms of gene expression and provide important insights into health and disease. This collection of stories and multimedia explores that research.

Researchers at Whitehead Institute study the many aspects of germ cells that set them apart from other cell types. They ask questions about how germ cells migrate across the embryo to meet developing gonads, and how germ cells ultimately give rise to eggs and sperm. 

An intricate set of processes govern how cells know where to go and what to become during development. In this article, learn how Whitehead Institute researchers are investigating the various biological mechanisms that serve as the architects of life forms.

Institute researchers continue to pioneer a deeper understanding of how metabolic processes contribute to health and disease – with long-term implications that could range from new treatments for obesity and type 2 diabetes to methods for slowing the aging process. Here are a few examples of Whitehead Institute scientists’ creative and pioneering work in the field of metabolism.

Whitehead Institute researchers are studying how RNA molecules group together for the good of the cell and our health — and what happens when these groupings go awry.

Researchers at Whitehead Institute have made important discoveries that have uncovered the prevalence, characteristics, and functions of regulatory RNAs. Their work has transformed researchers’ understanding of gene regulation and revealed a complex, elegant system that tailors gene expression for each cell type and tissue.

Maintaining food security in the face of climate change is a complex, multifaceted problem of global importance, and so researchers are tackling it from many different angles. Whitehead Institute Member Mary Gehring is starting to work on ways to engineer crops that can better survive the effects of climate change and continue to produce high yields with high nutritional value.