Thursday, December 23, 2010

Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard: Goals and Projects

Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard: Goals and Projects

by Dr. Deborah Hung, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Medical Genetics and Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School

The Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, was founded in 2004 through the extraordinary generosity of Eli and Edythe Broad, with the goals of bringing the power of genomics to the understanding of human disease and driving the transformation of medicine with molecular knowledge.  The Broad is a collaborative community involving the Boston area’s pre-eminent biomedical research organizations — the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Whitehead Institute, Harvard University, Harvard Medical School and its affiliated major teaching hospitals (Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Children’s Hospital, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Massachusetts General Hospital). 

The Institute is organized into Scientific Programs and Platforms.  The Programs are intellectual communities uniting researchers around a shared scientific focus, and include cancer, psychiatric disease, infectious diseases, metabolism, genome biology, medical and population genetics, and chemical biology.  The Platforms consist of teams of professional scientists who focus on the discovery, development, and optimization of the critical technological tools needed to obtain and analyze the massive amounts of genome-related data being generated by scientists at the Broad and around the world.  The Platform technologies include genome sequencing, genetic analysis (for expression profiling and defining genetic variation), proteomics, metabolomics, imaging, RNAi, chemical biology, and biological samples management.  Together, scientists in the Programs and Platforms work to tackle critical questions in human biology and disease, often on a scale that could not be reached within a single research laboratory.

Examples of research areas include genome-wide association studies that have identified new genes associated with autism, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease; the 1000 Genomes project capitalizing on next-generation sequencing technologies to define and discover both single nucleotide polymorphisms and structural variants within the human population; and the Cancer Atlas project,a comprehensive and coordinated effort to define the entire spectrum of genomic changes involved in human cancer.  Ongoing efforts to study various aspects of infection and immunity, include collaborations with the Genome Sequencing Center for Infectious Diseases, one of three NIAID supported pathogen sequencing centers, based at the Broad, and with the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard led by Dr. Bruce Walker, and focused on accelerating the discovery of an HIV/AIDS vaccine and establishing itself as a world leader in the collaborative study of immunology.  Ongoing efforts aim to define the spectrum of pathogen diversity and evolution through sequencing, to understand host responses using RNAi and genome-wide association studies, and to identify tractable drug targets through chemical high-throughput screening against a wide-range of pathogens including HIV, dengue virus, Plasmodium falciparum, and Mycobacterium tuberculosis, to name just a few.

The Broad Institute engages more than 150 faculty as core and associate members, and more than 1,500 scientists -- undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, professional scientists, administrative professionals, and academic faculty -- from across its partner institutions.  Currently 34 members of the MGH community are faculty members at the Broad Institute, including Dr. Patricia Donahoe and Dr. Lynda Stuart from the Massachusetts General Hospital for Children.  Numerous projects involve collaborations with both basic scientists and clinicians at MGH and other Harvard teaching hospitals.  Individuals within the Broad Institute partner institutions typically engage with the Broad Institute through participation in weekly Program meetings and by contacting the directors of the respective Programs.  More information about the Broad Institute can be found at






Some recent publications from the Broad Institute:
Amit, M. Garber, N. Chevrier, A.P. Leite, Y. Donner, T. Eisenhaure, M. Guttman, J.K. Grenier, W. Li, O. Zuk, L.A. Schubert, B. Birditt, T. Shay, A. Goren, X. Zhang, Z. Smith, R. Deering, R.C. McDonald, M. Cabili, B.E. Bernstein, J.L. Rinn, A. Meissner, D.E. Root, N. Hacohen, A. Regev. Unbiased reconstruction of a mammalian transcriptional network mediating pathogen responses (2009). Science. 2009 Oct 9;326(5950):257-63. Epub 2009 Sep 3.

Barrett JC, Hansoul S, Nicolae DL, Cho JH, Duerr RH, Rioux JD, Brant SR, Silverberg MS, Taylor KD, Barmada MM, Bitton A, Dassopoulos T, Datta LW, Green T, Griffiths AM, Kistner EO, Murtha MT, Regueiro MD, Rotter JI, Schumm LP, Steinhart AH, Targan SR, Xavier RJ; NIDDK IBD Genetics Consortium, Libioulle C, Sandor C, Lathrop M, Belaiche J, Dewit O, Gut I, Heath S, Laukens D, Mni M, Rutgeerts P, Van Gossum A, Zelenika D, Franchimont D, Hugot JP, de Vos M, Vermeire S, Louis E; Belgian-French IBD Consortium; Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium, Cardon LR, Anderson CA, Drummond H, Nimmo E, Ahmad T, Prescott NJ, Onnie CM, Fisher SA, Marchini J, Ghori J, Bumpstead S, Gwilliam R, Tremelling M, Deloukas P, Mansfield J, Jewell D, Satsangi J, Mathew CG, Parkes M, Georges M, Daly MJ (2008).  “Genome-wide association defines more than 30 distinct susceptibility loci for Crohn's disease”. Nature Genetics 40(8):955-62.

Calvo SE, Tucker EJ, Compton AG, Kirby DM, Crawford G, Burtt NP, Rivas M, Guiducci C, Bruno DL, Goldberger OA, Redman MC, Wiltshire E, Wilson CJ, Altshuler D, Gabriel SB, Daly MJ, Thorburn DR, Mootha VK. High-throughput, pooled sequencing identifies mutations in NUBPL and FOXRED1 in human complex I deficiency.Nat Genet. 2010 Oct;42(10):851-8. Epub 2010 Sep 5

Sudmant PH, Kitzman JO, Antonacci F, Alkan C, Malig M, Tsalenko A, Sampas N, Bruhn L, Shendure J; 1000 Genomes Project, Eichler EE. Diversity of human copy number variation and multicopy genes. Science. 2010 Oct 29;330(6004):641-6.

Weiss LA, Arking DE; Gene Discovery Project of Johns Hopkins & the Autism Consortium, Daly MJ, Chakravarti A. A genome-wide linkage and association scan reveals novel loci for autism. Nature. 2009 Oct 8;461 (7265):802-8

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