Dear Mass General Research Community,

Susan A. Slaugenhaupt, PhD

Welcome to the July edition of From the Lab Bench. There’s a common theme to the researchers featured in this month’s newsletter—they are each seeking to take their science into uncharted territory.

As we all know, some of the biggest breakthroughs in science have come from taking the road less traveled. We want Mass General to be known as a place where our scientists can take risks and explore unproven ideas.

The challenge for all of us is that federal funding for research is moving away from supporting these types of high-risk, high-reward projects.

That’s why the Research Institute is constantly working on ways to diversify our funding base so we can provide additional support for researchers who want to challenge conventional wisdom and explore new possibilities.

The MGH Research Scholars program, established in 2011, now provides unrestricted funding for 42 investigators here at the hospital. In the video below, you will hear highlights from a panel discussion where three of our Research Scholars talk about the difference Scholar funding has made in their work.

There are so many more researchers who could benefit from this kind of support, and we want to find ways to help.

Reading and listening to the stories in this month’s newsletter makes me realize why I get up and go to work every day. It’s to collaborate with and to help support amazing scientists like you.

Until next month,


Susan A. Slaugenhaupt, PhD
Scientific Director,
Mass General Research Institute

P.S. Don't forget to submit your entry for our "Art of Talking Science" event at HUBweek this fall.


Brown Seeks to Improve Anesthesia Outcomes by Focusing on the Brain

Emery Brown, MD, PhD, and a team of collaborating investigators from Massachusetts General Hospital are hoping to make a fundamental change in the way anesthesiologists think about the process of sedation—one that changes the focus from the body to the brain.

According to Dr. Brown, this shift in thinking is crucial when it comes to treating elderly patients (those over 60), who are statistically more likely to undergo medical procedures that require sedation, and more likely to suffer negative cognitive side effects as a result of being anesthetized.

These post-operative disorders can persist for years, with devastating effects on patients and their families.

Brown and his team believe that many of these poor outcomes are due in part to elderly patients receiving more drugs than necessary to achieve and maintain sedation. By measuring brain waves during anesthesia, he hopes to reduce the amount of medication given to elderly patients, and to shorten the time they spend under sedation.



Lesser hopes to turn harmful bacteria into a tool for healing

Cammie Lesser, MD, PhD, has always been fascinated by the way bacterial pathogens manipulate cells inside the human body.

She likens the push and pull between bacterial aggression and human response to warfare on the microbiological level.

Dr. Lesser, a researcher and clinician in the Department of Infectious Disease, is one of the six recently named MGH Research Scholars in the class of 2016.

She plans to use her scholar funding ($500,000 distributed over five years) to pursue a new strategy in the battle between bacteria and humans—taking a process that originally evolved to help harmful bacteria spread and
re-engineering it to provide a helpful function instead.

The work could one day result in low-cost, highly-specific methods for treating infectious diseases, autoimmune disorders and even cancer.


Mass General Research Institute Annual Symposium Panel Discussion
Highlights from a recent panel discussion featuring MGH Research Scholars
Gary Tearney, MD, PhD, Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, and Galit Alter, PhD.
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