Herbert Benson, MD

The Department of Molecular Biology at Massachusetts General Hospital is a part of both the research community of the hospital and the Division of Medical Sciences of the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. We also have a strong connection with the Department of Genetics at Harvard Medical School, where most of our scientists hold concurrent appointments. Members of the Department carry out fundamental studies in bioinformatics, genetics, molecular biology, and related disciplines, on a variety of topics at the cutting edge of science and medicine. Our mission is to advance scientific breakthroughs for the benefit of Mass General’s patients and the worldwide community. Our central strategic priority is to hire the very best early-career scientists, and help them to build and leverage next-generation technologies to generate fundamental advances in biomedicine.

The Department of Molecular Biology comprises approximately 200 people, including 15 faculty, about 30 staff members, and over 150 postdoctoral fellows, students, and other scientists. Our areas of excellence include:

  • Chromatin remodeling, long noncoding RNAs, X-chromosome inactivation (Kingston, Lee), epigenetics, (Hochedlinger, Kingston, Lee), reprogramming & pluripotency (Hochedlinger)
  • Human genetics, mitochondrial physiology and disease (Mootha), and mitochondrial membrane proteins (Mootha, Chao)
  • Plant biology, signaling, and pathogen defense. Innate immune signaling pathways (Ausubel, Sheen)
  • Bacterial pathogenesis (Ausubel, Hung) and fungal pathogenesis (Ausubel)

  • Cytoskeletal assembly, dynamics, and transport (Blower, Subramanian), macromolecular assembly dynamics (Chao)

  • Chemical biology (Hung, Szostak). Synthetic biology, chemical evolution, and protocells (Szostak)
Insulin signaling (Avruch, Ruvkun). Kinase/GTPase mediation of mitogen and stress signaling (Avruch)

    V(D)J recombination (Oettinger)
Synapse formation, transmission, and trafficking (Kaplan)

  • miRNA and RNAi pathways. Aging in C. elegans. Search for extraterrestrial life (Ruvkun)

The Department of Molecular Biology is home to one Nobel Laureate (Jack Szostak), two Lasker Award winners (Gary Ruvkun, Jack Szostak), one Wolf Prize winner (Gary Ruvkun), one Breakthrough Prize winner (Gary Ruvkun), one Thomas Hunt Morgan Medal awardee (Fred Ausubel), and six members of the National Academy of Sciences (Fred Ausubel, Bob Kingston, Jeannie Lee, Vamsi Mootha, Gary Ruvkun, and Jack Szostak).