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Research at Mass General
Research news article archive
Research news and stories from Massachusetts General Hospital, home to the largest hospital-based biomedical research program in the United States.
FRESH program combines basic science with social benefits for women at risk for HIV
A program established by investigators from the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard is addressing the persistently elevated risk of HIV infection among young women in South Africa from two angles – first, investigating biological factors that modulate infection risk and the early immunologic events following viral exposure, and second, alleviating socioeconomic factors that limit opportunities for young women, the group at greatest risk of infection in the region hardest hit by the HIV epidemic.
Featuring Krista Dong, MD, and Bruce Walker, MD, of the Ragon Institute of Mass General, MIT and Harvard University.
Mass General study shows how exercise generates new brain neurons and improves cognition in an Alzheimer's mouse model
A study by a Massachusetts General Hospital research team finds that neurogenesis—inducing the production of new neurons—in the brain structure in which memories are encoded can improve cognitive function in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease.(Featuring Rudy Tanzi, PhD, and Se Hoon Choi, PhD, of the Genetics and Aging Research Unit)
Alzheimer's-associated tau protein disrupts molecular transport within neurons
A multi-institutional study led by investigators at Massachusetts General Hospital and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine has found how the abnormal form of tau that accumulates in the neurofibrillary tangles that characterize Alzheimer’s disease can disrupt the normal function of brain cells.
(Featuring Bradley Hyman, MD, PhD, of the Massachusetts Alzheimer's Disease Research Center)
Mass General team finds how NF-2 gene mutations make cells hyper-responsive to growth factor signaling
A team of Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center researchers has determined one way that mutations in a gene involved in a rare, hereditary cancer syndrome lead to out-of-control cellular proliferation.
Featuring Andrea McClatchey, PhD, and Christine Chiasson-MacKenzie, PhD, of the Mass General Center for Cancer Research
Mass General team discovers channels connecting skull bone marrow to brain surface
A new study from a Massachusetts General Hospital research team has made two surprising discoveries – that immune system cells responding to a stroke or other brain injury in an animal model are more likely to come from bone marrow in the skull and that tiny, previously unknown channels through the skull’s inner layer carry inflammatory cells from the marrow directly to the membranes covering the brain.
(Featuring Matthais Nahrendorf, MD, PhD, and Fanny Herisson, MD, of the Mass General Center for Systems Biology)
Mass General study defines mechanisms behind focused-ultrasound-assisted treatment of brain tumors
A study led by a team of Massachusetts General Hospital investigators has analyzed, for the first time, the mechanisms underlying the use of focused ultrasound to improve the delivery of anti-cancer drugs across the blood brain barrier into brain tumors.
(Featuring Vasileios Askoxylakis, MD, PhD, and Rakesh Jain, PhD, of the Steele Labs for Tumor Biology)
It's All in the Eyes: The Role of the Amygdala in the Experience and Perception of Fear
Researchers have long believed that the amygdala, an almond-shaped structure in the brain, is central to the experience and perception of fear. But a new paper from a Massachusetts General Hospital investigator describes how the role of the amygdala has turned out to be more complex than originally thought.
(Lisa Feldman Barrett, PhD, of the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging)
Harmful Side Effects
The intent behind a new federal proposal to flatten physician reimbursement for office visits is admirable, but the plan could also have harmful side effects and unintended consequences for many patients and physicians.
(Featuring Zirui Song, MD, PhD, and John Goodson, MD)
Predicting risk for common deadly disease from millions of genetic variants
A research team at the Broad Institute, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School reports a new kind of genome analysis that could identify large fractions of the population who have a much higher risk of developing serious common diseases, including coronary artery disease, breast cancer, or type 2 diabetes.
(Featuring Sekar Kathiresan, MD, and Amit Khera, MD)
Novel approach keeps liquids from freezing at very low temperatures for extended periods
Investigators from the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Engineering in Medicine have developed a simple method to maintain water and water-based solutions in a liquid state at temperatures far below the usual “freezing point” for greatly extended periods of time.
Featuring Haishui Huang, PhD, Martin Yarmush, MD, PhD and O. Berk Usta, PhD, from the Center for Engineering in Medicine.
Rapid diagnostic coupled with local therapy developed for brain tumors
Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital are designing a new, rapid molecular diagnostic and sustained release therapeutic that could be deployed during brain surgery to treat gliomas and prevent their return.
Featuring Ganesh Shankar, MD, PhD, and Daniel Cahill, MD, PhD, from the Department of Neurosurgery.
Mass General team defines the mechanisms of action of key genetic abnormality in Ewing sarcoma
A Massachusetts General Hospital research team has used epigenome editing tools to investigate how the genetic abnormality that drives Ewing sarcoma – the second most common bone cancer in children and young adults – unleashes tumor growth.
Features Miguel Rivera, MD, Gaylor Boulay, PhD, and Angela Volorio, MD, from the Department of Pathology and Center for Cancer Research
Researchers discover new type of lung cell, critical insights for cystic fibrosis
Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard have identified a rare, previously unknown cell type in airway tissue that appears to play a key role in the biology of cystic fibrosis.
Featuring Daniel Montoro and Jayaraj Rajagopal, MD from the Center for Regenerative Medicine
Nano-optic endoscope sees deep into tissue at high resolution
New class of endoscopic imaging catheters developed at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Harvard Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences can overcome many limitations of current systems.
Featuring Hamid Pahlevaninezhad, PhD, and Melissa J. Suter, PhD, of the Department of Medicine, Pulmonary and Critical Care Division.
Microfluidic system incorporates neuroinflammation into "Alzheimer's in a Dish" model
Building on their development of the first culture system to replicate fully the pathology behind Alzheimer’s disease, a Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) research team has now produced a system that includes neuroinflammation, the key biological response that leads to the death of brain cells.
Featuring Joseph Park, PhD, Doo Yeon Kim, PhD, and Rudolph Tanzi, PhD from the Department of Neurology
Researchers discover a region of the brain thought to play a role in Parkinson's symptoms
A team of investigators at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Massachusetts General Hospital has identified a little understood sheet of neurons called the claustrum as the likely origin of neurologic symptoms most commonly seen in Parkinson’s disease.
Featuring Juho Jousta, PhD, from the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging
Protease inhibitors may increase risk of cardiovascular death in people with HIV and heart failure
A Massachusetts General Hospital study finds that patients with both HIV infection and heart failure whose antiretroviral regimen includes protease inhibitors may be at greater risk for worsening of heart failure and cardiovascular death than patients with HIV taking non-protease-inhibitor-based regimens.
Featuring Tomas Neilan, MD, MPH, of the Division of Cardiology
Limited restoration of MECP2 gene expression may relieve symptoms in Rett syndrome
A Massachusetts General Hospital research team has developed a new female mouse model for the neurodevelopmental disorder Rett syndrome and in the process found evidence that relieving symptoms of the genetic disorder may require only partial expression of the normal copy of the involved gene.
Featuring Jeannie Lee, MD, PhD, of the Department of Molecular Biology
Nitric oxide tells roundworms to avoid bad bacteria
Nitric oxide gas produced by a type of harmful bacteria lets roundworms know to stay away from it, says a new study co-authored by a Massachusetts General Hospital investigator.
Featuring Yingson Hao, PhD, of the Department of Molecular Biology
Study analyzes opioid overdose risk during pregnancy, postpartum period, among Massachusetts women
A study from research team consisting of investigators from the Mass. Department of Public Health and several academic medical centers, led by a MassGeneral Hospital for Children physician, found that opioid overdose events decreased during pregnancy, reaching their lowest level during the third trimester, but then increased during the postpartum period, becoming significantly higher during the second six months after delivery.
Featuring Davida Schiff, MD, MSc, of the MassGeneral Hospital for Children
Amyloid beta protein protects brain from herpes infection by binding to and entrapping viral particles
A Massachusetts General Hospital study has found the mechanism by which amyloid beta—the protein deposited into plaques in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease—protects from the effects of herpes viruses commonly found in the brain.
Featuring Rudy Tanzi, PhD, and Robert Moir, PhD, of the Department of Neurology
Expanding primary care buprenorphine treatment could curb opioid overdose crisis
Expanding the availability of medication treatment for opioid use disorder in primary care settings would be a major step toward reducing overdose deaths, write two physicians specializing in addiction medicine and health care delivery.
Featuring Sarah Wakeman, MD, and Michael Barnett, MD
Prenatal exposure to folic acid fortification of foods may reduce mental illness risk
A Massachusetts General Hospital study finds that fortifying grain-based foods with folic acid—instituted to prevent neural tube defects in infants—may also reduce the incidence of severe mental illnesses like schizophrenia that initially appear in young adulthood.
Featuring Joshua Roffman, MD, MMSc, of the Department of Psychiatry
Patients believed to be allergic to penicillin have significantly increased risks of MRSA and C. difficile
Analysis by Massachusetts General Hospital investigators of a large group of outpatient reveals that patients believed to be allergic to penicillin have significantly increased risks of contracting the dangerous infections MRSA and C. difficile.
Mass General co-led study identifies the genetic roots and transfer of cholera in South Asia
Study finds multiple strains of cholera exist simultaneously in Dhaka and frequently, one individual may have several at a given time which may lead to genetic transfers and the formation of new strains.
Featuring Edward T. Ryan, MD, Director of Global Infectious Disease at Mass General
BCG vaccine leads to long-term improvement in blood sugar levels in type 1 diabetes patients
Long-term follow-up of participants in Massachusetts General Hospital clinical trials of a generic vaccine to reverse advanced type 1 diabetes finds significant clinical benefits, including restoration of near-normal blood sugar levels.
Featuring Denise Faustman, MD, PhD, Director of the Mass General Immunobiology Laboratory
Both the quantity and quality of sleep affect cardiovascular risk factors in adolescents
A study from a research team led by a MassGeneral Hospital for Children physician finds that both the quantity and quality of sleep – the amount of time spent sleeping and the percentage of sleep that is undisturbed – in young adolescents have significant effects on cardiovascular health.
Featuring Elsie Taveras, MD, MPH of the MassGeneral Hospital for Children
Mindfulness meditation and relaxation response have different effects on brain function
A team led by Massachusetts General Hospital investigators has identified specific effects that relaxation response training and mindfulness meditation have within the brain.Featuring Sara Lazar, PhD, and Gunes Sevinc, PhD, of the Mass General Psychiatric Neuroscience Research Program
Study identifies protein's role in mediating brain's response to stress
A study led by Massachusetts General Hospital investigators has identified a critical role for a protein called Kruppel-like factor 9 in the brain’s response to stress, which has implications for protecting against the effects of stress in conditions like major depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Featuring Amar Sahay, PhD, of the Center for Regenerative Medicine and the Department of Psychiatry
Structural protein found essential to X chromosome inactivation
A Massachusetts General Hospital research team has identified the essential role of a structural protein in the silencing of the inactive X chromosome, a process that prevents both copies of the same gene from being expressed in female mammals, which carry two copies of the X chromosome.
Featuring Chen-Yu Wang, MD, and Jeannie T. Lee, MD, PhD, of the Department of Molecular Biology
Maternal fatty acid balance affects offspring obesity through gut microbial population
A Massachusetts General Hospital study finds the balance between omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in the tissues of female mammals, which previous research has suggested can impact the incidence of obesity in their offspring, may do so through its effect on the microbial population of the infants gastrointestinal tract.
Featuring Jing X. Kang, MD, PhD, of the Laboratory of Lipid Medicine and Technology
Screening resident physicians entering training misses many at risk for significant sleep impairment
A Massachusetts General Hospital study finds that screening first-year residents to identify those with pre-existing sleep problems does not appear to provide useful data regarding risks of developing sleep impairment during subsequent months.
Featuring Lori Berkowitz, MD, of the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology
Virtual primary care visits for follow-up hypertension care have outcomes similar to office visits
A study conducted among patients at Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that virtual follow-up visits for patients with hypertension appeared just as effective as in-person office visits in helping maintain blood pressure control.
Features Ronald Dixon, MD, of the Mass General Division of Internal Medicine
Vascular risk factors interact with amyloid beta levels to increase age-related cognitive design
A Massachusetts General Hospital study finds that risk factors for heart disease and stroke appear to hasten the risk of cognitive decline in normal older individuals with evidence of very early Alzheimer’s-disease-associated changes in the brain.
Features Jennifer Rubin, PhD, of the Department of Psychiatry and Jasmeer Chhatwal, MD, PhD, of the Department of Neurology
MR spectroscopy imaging reveals effects of targeted treatment of mutant IDH1 gliomas
Using a novel imaging method, a Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) research team is investigating the mechanisms behind a potential targeted treatment for a subtype of the deadly brains tumors called gliomas.
Features Ovidiu Andronesi, MD, PhD, of the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging
Automated system significantly improves identification of patients at risk for ventilator-associated pneumonia
An automated system developed at Massachusetts General Hospital for identifying patients at risk for complications associated with the use of mechanical ventilators provided significantly more accurate results than did traditional surveillance methods, which rely on manual recording and interpretation of individual patient data.
Features Brandon Westover, MD, PhD, of the Department of Neurology
Neuroinflammation seen in spinal cord, nerve roots of patients with chronic sciatica
A study by Massachusetts General Hospital investigators has found, for the first time in humans, that patients with chronic sciatica – back pain that shoots down the leg – have evidence of inflammation in key areas of the nervous system.
Features Yi Zhang, MD, PhD, of the Center for Pain Management
Cellular reprogramming approach promotes muscle regeneration in injured mice
Massachusetts General Hospital researchers have developed a simple and robust approach for directly reprogramming mature skin cells into immature muscle cells.
Features Konrad Hochedlinger, PhD, of the Department of Molecular Biology
Artificial intelligence detects patterns of gut microbes that indicate cholera risk
Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital and Duke University used artificial intelligence to spot patterns within the communities of bacteria living in the human gut that could indicate who among the approximately one billion people around the globe at risk of cholera infection will get sick with the diarrheal disease.
Features Regina C. LaRoque, MD, MPH of the Mass General Division of Infectious Diseases
Artificial intelligence better than most human experts at detecting cause of human blindness
An algorithm that uses artificial intelligence can automatically and more accurately diagnose a potentially devastating cause of childhood blindness than most expert physicians, suggests a study by investigators at Massachusetts General Hospital and Oregon Health & Science University.
Featuring Jayashree Kalpathy-Cramer, PhD, of the Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging.
State-of-the-art HIV drug could curb HIV transmission, improve survival in India
A study led by a Massachusetts General Hospital research team finds that an HIV treatment regimen widely used in North America and Europe would likely increase the life expectancy of people living with HIV in India and reduce the number of new HIV infections with minimal impact on the country’s HIV/AIDS budget.
Featuring Kenneth A. Freedberg, MD, MSc, of the Medical Practice Evaluation Center
A multi-institutional research team led by investigators from Massachusetts General Hospital and University of California San Francisco has identified a new mechanism by which the dangerous brain tumors called gliomas develop resistance to anti-angiogenic treatment.
Featuring Rakesh Jain, PhD, of the Edwin L. Steele Laboratories for Tumor Biology
Exercise may help make the heart younger
In a new study in mice, researchers from Harvard University and Massachusetts General uncovered one reason why exercise is good for the heart: It stimulates the heart to make new muscle cells, both under normal conditions and after a heart attack.
Featuring Carolin Lerchenmüeller of the Mass General Cardiovascular Research Center
Imaging may allow safe tPA treatment of patients with unwitnessed strokes
A study led by Massachusetts General Hospital investigators may lead to a significant expansion in the number of stroke patients who can safely be treated with intravenous tPA, the "clot busting" drug that has greatly reduced stroke-related disability and deaths in eligible patients.
Featuring Lee Schwamm, MD, executive vice chair of the Department of Neurology and director of the Mass General Comprehensive Stroke Center.
Study identifies overdose risk factors in youth with substance use disorders
A team of Massachusetts General Hospital investigators has identified factors that may increase the risk of drug overdose in adolescents and young adults.
Featuring Amy Yule, MD, of the Addiction Recovery Management Service and Division of Child Psychiatry
Personalized bio-inks boost healing potential of printable body tissue
Researchers from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, MIT and Massachusetts General Hospital have incorporated platelet-rich plasma into a bio-ink: a 3-D-printed mixture of cells and gel that could eventually become the stuff of skin grafts and regenerative tissue implants.
Featuring Jeremy Ruskin, MD, Director of the Mass General Cardiac Arrhythmia Service
Mass General-led study may reveal how chronic stress in early life increases vulnerability to PTSD
A collaboration between investigators at Massachusetts General Hospital and Khyber Medical University in Pakistan may have discovered how chronic stress experienced early in life increases vulnerability to post-traumatic stress disorder later in life.
Featuring Ki Goosens, PhD, of the MassGeneral Institute for Neurodegenerative Disease.
RB1 gene mutations underlie clinical resistance to CDK 4/6 inhibitor therapy for breast cancer
Featuring Aditya Bardia, MD, of the Mass General Cancer Center
A multi-institutional research team led by a Massachusetts General Hospital investigator has identified what may be a novel mechanism underlying acquired resistance to CDK 4/6 inhibitor treatment for breast cancer.
Relaxation response therapy may reduce blood pressure by altering expression of a distinct set of genes
Featuring Randall Zusman, MD, Director of the Division of Hypertension at the Mass General Corrigan Minehan Heart Center
A new study led by investigators at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), and the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at MGH identified genes associated with the body’s response to relaxation techniques and sheds light on the molecular mechanisms by which these interventions may work to lower blood pressure. The findings were published today in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.
Combination immunotherapy improves survival in mouse models of mesothelioma
Featuring Mark Poznansky, MD, PhD, Steve and Deborah Gorlin MGH Research Scholar and Director of the Vaccine and Immunotherapy Center at Mass General
Massachusetts General Hospital investigator have found that combined treatment with two cancer immunotherapy drugs significantly prolonged survival in mouse models of the aggressive cancer malignant mesothelioma.
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Researchers from Mass General have teamed up with the All of Us Research Program to build a large repository of patient samples and health information that will reflect the nation's diverse population.
Mansour leads efforts to halt the spread of a killer fungal infection
Michael Mansour, MD, PhD, an infectious diseases specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital, discusses the rise of a mysterious new strain of fungus that is resistant to all known antifungal medications, and explains how he is helping to lead the hospital's response.
James Berry, MD, MPH, is working to build tools and identify biomarkers to improve clinical trial methodology. His goal is to speed up the process of identifying the next drug that will slow, reverse or even prevent ALS in the future.
Mass General researcher Katharine Nicholson has launched a clinical research study to follow first-degree relatives of individuals who have a familial form of ALS but do not show symptoms yet in order to identify the earliest signs of disease progression.
Sabrina Paganoni, MD, PhD, is using technology to find new treatments and improve the care and quality of life for patients with ALS.
Nitya Jain, PhD, a researcher at the MassGeneral Hospital for Children’s Mucosal Immunology and Biology Research Center, is studying how changes in the bacterial population in the gut influence T cell development and how signals between the two systems drive this process.
A new initiative from the Department of Medicine, the Pathways Service provides a way for medical residents to discuss unusual patient cases and initiate new research projects based on the questions the cases raise.
Scott Plotkin, MD, PhD, and Vijaya Ramesh, PhD, are using their respective expertise in clinical and fundamental science to investigate new treatments for neurofibromatosis and two related disorders.
Like a pebble thrown into a still body of water, a new study from the Mass General Center for Systems Biology has found that white blood cells called macrophages create a ripple effect in the heart that can lead to development of a condition known as heart failure with preserved ejection fraction, or HFpEF.
While it may not have been called rare disease research by name, Massachusetts General Hospital has been identifying and tracking rare diseases for more than a century, says Florian Eichler, MD, Director of the Center for Rare Neurological Diseases in the Department of Neurology. By combining new genetic insights with new models of collaborative research, Eichler and other clinician-investigators at Mass General are working to develop much needed new treatments for rare disease patients.
Mass General researcher Bryan Hurley, PhD, is exploring how controlling the infection and inflammation associated with cystic fibrosis could be the key to developing improved therapies for patients.
Jacqueline Lane, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital, is studying genetic factors that impact our sleep.
Joel Salinas, MD, is using data from long-term research studies to gain insights into how strong social networks help to promote brain health in individuals as they age.
Caroline Mitchell, MD, MPH, a researcher at the Vincent Center for Reproductive Biology at Massachusetts General Hospital, is studying how microbial changes in the female reproductive tract impact health outcomes across the lifecycle of women.
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Learn about genetic insights into our food choices, a new diagnostic device for lymphoma and much more.
Researchers are identifying the genetic roots of cholera, studying the impact of sleep on heart health in teens, and much more.
A closer look at how researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital are devising new ways to diagnose monitor and treat amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
Research finds how daily exercise helps to increase the production of new heart muscle cells. Plus, a study identifies risk factors for overdose in youths who have substance use disorders.
A new study questions the data used to determine the ideal age to start breast cancer screening in women of African-American, Hispanic and other ethnic minorities, plus new research examines how well the DECIDE intervention is working to give patients from ethnic and cultural minorities a bigger role in decisions about their behavioral health care.
Researchers identify the role of immune cells in a life threatening heart condition, plus genetic clues reveal a key contributor to hereditary aortic aneurysms.
Mass General researchers uncover gender differences that impact the risk of developing heart disease. Plus, could strenuous exercise be bad for your heart?
Researchers investigate how thyroid levels affect a woman's fertility, what age is best to screen for HIV, and how patients with malignant brain tumors utilize hospice services.
Researchers harness the power of artificial intelligence to develop a new screening method for high risk breast lesions. Plus, a team from the Mass General Cancer Center provides data to show how a diagnostic tool can identify early signs of cancer treatment resistance.
Investigators have developed a new food allergen detector small enough to fit on a keychain, and a team from Mass General and MIT has devised a new system for measuring sleep that is wireless, portable and powered by artificial intelligence.
Could laws restricting use of off-road-vehicles by young drivers have an impact on injury rates? Plus, researchers study how the brains of patients with fibromyalgia process pain.
See all Research Roundup columns
A spotlight on nursing research at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Massachusetts General Hospital is home to a vibrant community of postdoctoral researchers. Here are some of their stories.
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