Context-Specific Polycomb Mechanisms in Development

Polycomb group (PcG) proteins are crucial chromatin regulators that maintain repression of lineage-inappropriate genes and are therefore required for stable cell fate. Recent advances show that PcG proteins form distinct multi-protein complexes in various cellular environments, such as in early development, adult tissue maintenance and cancer. This surprising compositional diversity provides the basis for mechanistic diversity. Understanding this complexity deepens…
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Meet a Whitehead Postdoc: Arash Latifkar

Arash Latifkar is a postdoc in Whitehead Institute Member David Bartel’s lab studying RNA viruses to learn more about the lifecycle of RNA. He is broadly interested in RNA metabolism, which refers to events that happen in the lifecycle of ribonucleic acids (RNA). It is a really exciting time to study RNA biology. A lot of attention has been directed…
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In the United States, substance use disorders are a leading cause of death among young people. Treatments such as deep brain stimulation hold promise for helping people overcome addiction, but many questions remain about what brain areas should be targeted. Researchers are gaining new insights from patients who are no longer addicted to nicotine after experiencing a brain lesion, such…
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The Pew Charitable Trusts has selected Whitehead Institute Member Ankur Jain to be a 2022 Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences. The Pew program provides funding to young investigators of outstanding promise who work in areas of science relevant to the advancement of human health. Jain, who joined the Whitehead Institute faculty in 2019, is one of 22 scientists selected…
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The Human Genome Project was an ambitious initiative to sequence every piece of human DNA. The project drew together collaborators from research institutions around the world, including MIT’s Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, and was finally completed in 2003. Now, over two decades later, MIT Professor Jonathan Weissman and colleagues have gone beyond the sequence to present the first comprehensive…
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Tiny rings that stop chronic pain. A molecule that targets deadly lung cancer. Robotic hands that can pluck even the most delicate fruit. These are just a few of the innovations under development by Boston University faculty this year—and each of them may be the starting point for new commercial ventures thanks to the BU Ignition Awards. Each year, BU…
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For many of us, the pandemic sparked pivotal changes. And Magdelena S. Allen was no exception. Growing up in Portland, Oregon, Allen wanted to learn about everything. She loved stargazing and the physical sciences, but she was also interested in law and writing. Her parents, who homeschooled her and her sister until high school, were extremely supportive of her various…
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About 422 million people worldwide have diabetes, and 1.5 million deaths are directly attributed to diabetes each year, according to the World Health Organization. Type 1 diabetes is a chronic condition in which the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas have been damaged and no longer produce insulin; Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body becomes resistant, or insensitive, to insulin.…
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One of the hallmarks of Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the accumulation in the brain of a protein known as alpha-synuclein. For more than two decades, alpha-synuclein has been a focal point of attention for researchers, clinicians and drug makers interested in PD. But alpha-synuclein’s function is not well understood. A new study led by investigators at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard…
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How the Brain Makes Us Feel Sick

When humans have an infection, like a cold or the flu, they are fatigued and achy, have a reduced appetite and elevated body temperature (aka a fever). Remarkably these symptoms of illness are largely shared across the animal kingdom as they represent the body’s natural response to infection that are critical for fighting pathogens and enabling recovery. Although one might…
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