Dear Mass General Research Community,

Susan A. Slaugenhaupt, PhD

Welcome to our Thanksgiving edition of From the Lab Bench!

This edition is stuffed with stories about unique research projects that are taking place in the far corners of the globe.

We're thankful that the research enterprise at Massachusetts General Hospital is truly a global effort.

The hospital has programs, projects or collaborations in more than 50 countries, and more than 500 MGHers travel internationally each year to provide patient care, organize education and training courses, and conduct research.

Right now, we have researchers working in places as diverse as Bhutan, Tanzania, Haiti, Botswana, South Africa, Uganda, Antarctica and Kenya, just to name a few.

Their projects run the gamut from basic biomedical science to translational clinical trials, quality improvement initiatives and socio-behavioral research.

These international collaborations are vitally important given the continuing pressure to reduce health care costs. There is much we can learn from exploring cost-effective health care solutions in settings with limited resources. Diagnostic tests that used to require bulky and expensive machines can now be done with a Smartphone and an internet connection.

By reaching across international borders, we can also gain access to more diverse patient populations. These contrasts can provide useful insights into the progression of disease—and may provide clues for new treatments.

Working internationally also gives us the opportunity to exchange ideas with other talented scientists across the globe.

Given the results of the recent election, it is more important than ever for us to stand together as advocates for scientific research, both in the US and around the world.

By working together with our global partners, we can accelerate the process of scientific discovery and improve the quality of care for patients all over the world.

"Science knows no country, because knowledge belongs to humanity, and is the torch that lights the world." — Louis Pasteur

Until next month,


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

P.S. If you're ready to explore some new worlds in research without leaving your lab bench, be sure to check out our list of favorite science podcasts below.


Firth Takes His Research To Extremes

Billy Joel once sang, “I don’t know why I go to extremes.”

For Massachusetts General Hospital pediatric anesthesiologist Paul Firth, MBChB, the question is not just why people go to extremes, but what physiological changes happen to them when they do.

Firth, an avid mountain climber, explorer and distance runner, has spent the past two decades studying the medical case histories of climbers and other adventurers in order to create a more complete picture of how the body responds to hypoxia, or the lack of oxygen, during periods of intense exertion.

In addition to making him smarter and safer when taking on his own tough physical challenges, this research has given Firth new insights into managing anesthesia delivery for patients with sickle cell disease—an inherited disorder in which oxygenated blood has difficulty traveling through the body.



Seal Study Could Offer New Insights into Bloodflow Control

A two-month research stint on remote Ross Island in Antarctica can test your endurance in many ways:

  • Working outside in sub-zero temperatures
  • Wrangling 500-pound seals onto a scale
  • Enduring a long separation from your family and friends
  • Commuting to work on the back of a snowmobile across the windiest continent on earth

Luckily, for Massachusetts General Hospital researchers Emmanuel Buys, PhD, and Allyson Hindle, PhD, the rewards of investigating Weddell Seals and the mechanisms they have evolved for long-duration diving far outweigh the challenges of working in a remote and hostile environment.



Listening in the Lab: My Favorite Science Podcasts

(We invited Hayley Mattison, PhD, who is participating in a communications internship at the Mass General Research Institute this fall, to share some of her favorite science podcasts.)

As a postdoctoral fellow studying sleep in worms in the Kaplan Lab at Massachusetts General Hospital, I spend long hours setting up experiments and collecting or analyzing data at a microscope.

To get through the hours spent alone (often in the dark) with my worms, I turn to podcasts for some much-needed entertainment and education.

I have compiled a list, in no particular order, of a few of my favorite science podcasts that keep me updated on research in a variety of fields.


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