A deepening understanding of the brain has created unprecedented opportunities to alleviate the challenges posed by disability. Scientists and engineers are taking design cues from biology itself to create revolutionary technologies that restore the function of bodies affected by injury, aging, or disease — from prosthetic limbs that effortlessly navigate tricky terrain to digital nervous systems that move the body…
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Inside our brains lives a myriad of cell types that support complex human thought — from our ability to make memories and decisions, to our capacity for smell, taste, movement, and communication. Scientists do not yet fully understand how this critical cellular diversity arises as the brain grows and develops. Now, researchers at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard…
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Influenza virus was the cause of the flu pandemic of 1918 that killed over 20 million people world-wide, and different variants continue to cause new epidemic flu outbreaks every year that threaten the health and livelihoods of many. The Centers for Disease Control and Intervention (CDC) estimate that influenza has resulted in between 9 million and 45 million illnesses, 140,000…
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Samuel, Zhen, and Venkatachalam Labs Observe C. elegans Brain in Action

Small transparent animals like zebrafish and C. elegans have long been heralded for their accessibility to optical methods to manipulate and monitor neuronal function. A major shift in these approaches occurred when fast microscopes and efficient data analysis began to allow whole-brain imaging. Several years ago, researchers in Aravi Samuel’s lab and their collaborators started building the tools needed for whole-brain imaging in C. elegans.…
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Joseph P. Mizgerd, ScD, was named the inaugural Jerome S. Brody, MD, Professor of Pulmonary Medicine in a ceremony held both in-person and over Zoom. On Sept. 14, colleagues, friends and family gathered to witness the installation and celebrate his contributions to the pulmonary field. Mizgerd is Director of the Boston University Pulmonary Center and professor of medicine, microbiology and…
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Deep Learning Helps Predict New Drug Combinations to Fight COVID-19

The existential threat of COVID-19 has highlighted an acute need to develop working therapeutics against emerging health threats. One of the luxuries deep learning has afforded us is the ability to modify the landscape as it unfolds — so long as we can keep up with the viral threat, and access the right data. As with all new medical maladies,…
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Research Roundup: September 17, 2021

Welcome to the September 17, 2021 installment of Research Roundup, a recurring snapshot of recent studies published by scientists at the Broad Institute and their collaborators. Identifying causal variants in noncoding regions of the genome Genetic variations in the 3′ untranslated region (UTR), a noncoding area of mRNA that influences gene expression, are strongly associated with human traits and diseases but…
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Over the past decade, scientists have been exploring vaccination as a way to help fight cancer. These experimental cancer vaccines are designed to stimulate the body’s own immune system to destroy a tumor, by injecting fragments of cancer proteins found on the tumor. So far, none of these vaccines have been approved by the FDA, but some have shown promise…
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Immune Escape

Cancers in different tissue types develop unique genetic mechanisms to avoid discovery and destruction by the immune system, suggests a new study in mice by scientists at Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Dana-Farber Cancer Center. The findings, published Sept. 17 in Science, could explain why some cancer types respond to current immunotherapies while others don’t—laying the foundation for researchers to…
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Despite breakthrough treatments for high-grade serous ovarian cancer, about 80 percent of patients relapse within two years, often resistant to treatment. The good news is that Dana-Farber scientists are pursuing multiple avenues of research that very well may improve outcomes. “A number of patients develop progressive disease at a later point, potentially indicating that a subset of the cells were…
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