Snapshot of Science is a monthly digest of publication summaries, press releases and blog posts featuring researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital.

Welcome to the September 2018 edition of Snapshot of Science. Here's a quick look at some recent publications, press releases and stories about the Mass General research community.

In this issue we highlight:

  • 21 new studies published in high impact journals, along with 15 summaries submitted by the research teams
  • 7 new research-related press releases from the Mass General Public Affairs office
  • 10 posts from the Mass General Research Institute blog

Publications

NOVEL MECHANISM FOR HIV VACCINE
Route of Immunization Defines Multiple Mechanisms of Vaccine-mediated Protection Against SIV
Ackerman ME, Das J, Pittala S, Broge T, Linde C, Suscovich TJ [et al.], Alter G.
Published in Nature Medicine on September 3, 2018 | *Summary available


UNEXPECTED PATHWAYS DRIVING TNBC UNCOVERED
Unraveling Subclonal Heterogeneity and Aggressive Disease States in TNBC Through Single-cell RNA-seq
Karaayvaz M, Cristea S, Gillespie SM, Patel AP, Mylvaganam R, Luo CC [et al.], Ellisen LW.
Published in Nature Communications on September 4, 2018 | *Summary available


ABNORMAL TAU-NPC INTERACTIONS LEAD TO NEUROTOXICITY IN ALZHEIMER'S
Tau Protein Disrupts Nucleocytoplasmic Transport in Alzheimer's Disease
Eftekharzadeh B, Daigle JG, Kapinos LE, Coyne A, Schiantarelli J, Carlomagno Y [et al.], Hyman BT.
Published in Neuron on September 5, 2018 | See press release


PHARMACOLOGICAL STIMULATION OF THE BRAIN TO MIMIC THE BENEFITS OF EXERCISE
Combined Adult Neurogenesis and BDNF Mimic Exercise Effects on Cognition in an Alzheimer's Mouse Model
Choi SH, Bylykbashi E, Chatila ZK, Lee SW, Pulli B, Clemenson GD [et al.], Tanzi RE.
Published in Science on September 7, 2018 | See press release


LI-FRAUMENI ZEBRAFISH MODEL DEVELOPED
tp53 Deficiency Causes a Wide Tumor Spectrum and Increases Embryonal Rhabdomyosarcoma Metastasis in Zebrafish
Ignatius MS, Hayes MN, Moore FE, Tang Q, Garcia SP, Blackburn PR [et al.], Langenau DM.
Published in Elife on September 7, 2018 | *Summary available


INSIGHTS INTO YOUTH E-CIGARETTE PREFERENCES
Adolescent Use of Different E-cigarette Products
McMillen R, Tanski S, Wilson K, Klein JD, Winickoff JP.
Published in Pediatrics on September 10, 2018 | *Summary available


UNDERSTANDING RISK AND DECISION-MAKING
Intermittent Subthalamic Nucleus Deep Brain Stimulation Induces Risk-Aversive Behavior in Human Subjects
Patel SR, Herrington TM, Sheth SA, Mian M, Bick SK, Yang JC [et al.], Eskandar EN.
Published in Elife on September 10, 2018 | *Summary available


NEW STRATEGY IDENTIFIES OFF-TARGET EFFECTS OF CRISPR GENE
In Vivo CRISPR Editing with No Detectable Genome-Wide Off-Target Mutations
Akcakaya P, Bobbin ML, Guo JA, Malagon-Lopez J, Clement K, Garcia SP [et al.], Joung JK.
Published in Nature on September 12, 2018


DISTINGUISHING AND TARGETING SPECIFIC T CELL HABITS
Cutting Edge: TGF-β and Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinase Signals Modulate Distinct Metabolism of Regulatory T Cell Subsets
Priyadharshini B, Loschi M, Newton RH, Zhang JW, Finn KK, Gerriets VA [et al.], Turka LA.
Published in Journal of Immunology on September 12, 2018 | *Summary available


COMPARING MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS TREATMENTS IN ADOLESCENTS
Trial of Fingolimod Versus Interferon Beta-1a in Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis
Chitnis T, Arnold DL, Banwell B, Brück W, Ghezzi A, Giovannoni G [et al.], Gärtner J.
Published in New England Journal of Medicine on September 13, 2018 | *Summary available


INSIGHTS INTO SKIN CANCER PREVENTION
Autophagy Controls CSL/RBPJκ Stability Through a p62/SQSTM1-Dependent Mechanism
Goruppi S, Jo SH, Laszlo C, Clocchiatti A, Neel V, Dotto GP.
Published in Cell Reports on September 18, 2018 | *Summary available


IDENTIFYING BARRIERS TO PrEP AND HIV PREVENTION
Being PrEPared - Preexposure Prophylaxis and HIV Disparities
Goldstein RH, Streed CG Jr, Cahill SR.
Published in New England Journal of Medicine on September 19, 2018 | *Summary available


EXPLORING THE TRIGGERS OF LIVER DISEASE
Inhibition of Acetyl-CoA Carboxylase by Phosphorylation or the Inhibitor ND-654 Suppresses Lipogenesis and Hepatocellular Carcinoma
Lally JSV, Ghoshal S, DePeralta DK, Moaven O, Wei L, Masia R [et al.], Fuchs BC.
Published in Cell Metabolism on September 20, 2018


UNDERSTANDING PEDIATRICIANS' ATTITUDES TOWARD VALUE-BASED PAYMENT
General Pediatricians and Value-Based Payments
Tieder JS, Sisk B, Hudak M, Richerson JE, Perrin JM.
Published in Pediatrics on September 20, 2018 | *Summary available


PINPOINTING GENETIC MARKERS FOR TYPE 2 DIABETES
Type 2 Diabetes Genetic Loci Informed By Multi-Trait Associations Point to Disease Mechanisms and Subtypes: A Soft Clustering Analysis
Udler MS, Kim J, von Grotthuss M, Bonàs-Guarch S, Cole JB, Chiou J [et al.], Florez JC.
Published in PLOS Medicine on September 21, 2018 | *Summary available


STUDYING PATTERNS OF DYNAMIC BRAIN ACTIVITY
Neurogenetic Profiles Delineate Large-Scale Connectivity Dynamics of the Human Brain
Diez I, Sepulcre J.
Published in Nature Communications on September 24, 2018 | *Summary available


REVIEW OF RODENT MODELS WITH BRAIN DISORDERS
Animal Models of Neurodegenerative Diseases
Dawson TM, Golde TE, Lagier-Tourenne C.
Published in Nature Neuroscience on September 24, 2018


NEW FINDINGS SHOW SEX-SPECIFIC DIFFERENCES IN BRAIN DEVELOPMENT
Microglial Dopamine Receptor Elimination Defines Sex-Specific Nucleus Accumbens Development and Social Behavior in Adolescent Rats
Kopec AM, Smith CJ, Ayre NR, Sweat SC, Bilbo SD.
Published in Nature Communications on September 25, 2018 | *Summary available | See press release


WEIGHING THE BENEFITS AND RISKS OF ANTICOAGULANTS
Effect of Variation in Published Stroke Rates on the Net Clinical Benefit of Anticoagulation for Atrial Fibrillation
Shah SJ, Eckman MH, Aspberg S, Go AS, Singer DE.
Published in Annals of Internal Medicine on September 25, 2018 | *Summary available


NEW NON-INVASIVE METHOD TO DETECT MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY
Analysis of Extracellular mRNA in Human Urine Reveals Splice Variant Biomarkers of Muscular Dystrophies
Antoury L, Hu N, Balaj L, Das S, Georghiou S, Darras B [et al.], Wheeler TM.
Published in Nature Communications on September 25, 2018 | See press release


INVESTIGATING THE IMMUNE CHECKPOINTS OF MICROGLIA
Microglia in Neurodegeneration
Hickman S, Izzy S, Sen P, Morsett L, El Khoury J.
Published in Nature Neuroscience on September 26, 2018 | *Summary available


Publication Summaries

NOVEL MECHANISM FOR HIV VACCINE
Route of Immunization Defines Multiple Mechanisms of Vaccine-mediated Protection Against SIV
Ackerman ME, Das J, Pittala S, Broge T, Linde C, Suscovich TJ [et al.], Alter G.
Published in Nature Medicine on September 3, 2018

For most clinically licensed vaccines, protection is offered by “neutralizing” antibodies that are able to block infection. However, for HIV, vaccines that offer protection, often do not induce neutralizing antibodies. In an article published in Nature Medicine, a team of researchers led by Dr. Galit Alter uncovered a novel antibody-centric mechanism for a promising HIV vaccine candidate. Using Dr. Alter’s “Systems Serology” platform technology, the authors discovered that regardless of the route of vaccination (intramuscular or aerosol) or vaccine-construct resistance to infection required an intimate interaction between vaccine induced antibodies and immune cells. Specifically, the ability of antibodies to recruit immune cells to engulf and destroy infected cells or the virus, in a process termed phagocytosis, was a key predictor of protection across several vaccine strategies. These findings point to next generation vaccine-design, which are able to drive the induction of immune recruiting antibodies, that may pave the way for the development of a protective vaccine against HIV.

(Summary submitted by Jishnu Das, PhD, and Galit Alter, PhD, Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard)


UNEXPECTED PATHWAYS DRIVING TNBC UNCOVERED
Unravelling Subclonal Heterogeneity and Aggressive Disease States in TNBC Through Single-cell RNA-seq
Karaayvaz M, Cristea S, Gillespie SM, Patel AP, Mylvaganam R, Luo CC [et al.], Ellisen LW.
Published in Nature Communications on September 4, 2018

Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) is an aggressive disease subtype treated primarily with chemotherapy. Paradoxically, even TNBCs that shrink dramatically with treatment often form lethal metastasis, which suggests that a minor subpopulation within the tumor determines clinical outcomes. This study sought to understand such behavior through comprehensive gene expression analysis of hundreds of individual cells from the primary tumors of six TNBC patients. Single-cell analysis revealed several distinct cell subpopulations, termed clusters, that were shared between multiple tumors, including one cluster whose signature predicted patient outcomes in a large TNBC cohort. The findings uncover unexpected pathways driving TNBC, and they imply that understanding the biology of key tumor cell subpopulations will be critical to developing more effective therapies.

(Summary submitted by Leif William Ellisen, MD, PhD, Mass General Cancer Center)


LI-FRAUMENI ZEBRAFISH MODEL DEVELOPED
tp53 Deficiency Causes a Wide Tumor Spectrum and Increases Embryonal Rhabdomyosarcoma Metastasis in Zebrafish
Ignatius MS, Hayes MN, Moore FE, Tang Q, Garcia SP, Blackburn PR [et al.], Langenau DM.
Published in Elife on September 7, 2018

tp53 is a well-known tumor suppressor that is functionally disrupted in more than 50% of all human tumors. Furthermore, inherited mutations of tp53 cause Li-Fraumeni syndrome and lead to cancer predisposition early in life. To better understand tp53 biology in vivo, we generated zebrafish that lack tp53. These fish spontaneously develop a wide range of novel tumor types and through transplantation of tumor cells from one animal to another, we uncovered a specific role for tp53 in metastasis of a common pediatric cancer of muscle called embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma. In total, we have uncovered new roles for tp53 loss in the onset of cancer and suggest a possible for tp53 loss in heightening aggression in human muscle cancers.

(Summary submitted by David Langenau, MD, and Madeline Nicole Hayes, PhD, Molecular Pathology Unit and Department of Pathology)


INSIGHTS INTO YOUTH E-CIGARETTE PREFERENCES
Adolescent Use of Different E-Cigarette Products
McMillen R, Tanski S, Wilson K, Klein JD, Winickoff JP.
Published in Pediatrics on September 10, 2018

There are two main types of e-cigarettes: open systems, which are refillable with nicotine solutions, and closed systems, which are disposable or use disposable cartridges. The closed-systems are typically produced and marketed by tobacco companies, which have an established history of manipulating nicotine-levels and marketing to youth. Open-system e-cigarettes have struggled with consumer product safety issues. This study demonstrates that teens often initiate with closed systems and then graduate to open-system e-cigarettes, potentially more dangerous products with weaker quality controls.

(Summary submitted by Jonathan Winickoff, MD, Massachusetts General Hospital for Children)


UNDERSTANDING RISK AND DECISION-MAKING
Intermittent Subthalamic Nucleus Deep Brain Stimulation Induces Risk-Aversive Behavior in Human Subjects
Patel SR, Herrington TM, Sheth SA, Mian M, Bick SK, Yang JC [et al.], Eskandar EN.
Published in Elife on September 10, 2018

Much like a pacemaker for the heart, deep brain stimulation (DBS) electrically stimulates the brain to normalize brain activity and reduce unwanted symptoms. Currently, DBS is primarily used to treat movement disorders such as Parkinson's Disease; however, it holds the potential to provide personalized therapy for a range of neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders. In this study, our team at Mass General provides some of the first evidence to demonstrate the efficacy of DBS in modulating complex cognitive functions, such as decision-making, which may pave the way for treating more complex disorders of cognition.

(Summary submitted by Shaun Patel, MD, Department of Orthopaedics)


DISTINGUISHING AND TARGETING T CELL NEEDS
Cutting Edge: TGF-β and Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinase Signals Modulate Distinct Metabolism of Regulatory T Cell Subsets
Priyadharshini B, Loschi M, Newton RH, Zhang JW, Finn KK, Gerriets VA [et al.], Turka LA.
Published in Journal of Immunology on September 12, 2018

T regulatory cells (Tregs) suppress inflammation and maintain immune tolerance. All cells in our bodies, including regulatory T cells, require energy in the form of either carbohydrates or fat that can affect their fate and function. Our work dissected the metabolic requirements of two distinct subsets of Tregs and show that both intrinsic (PI3K signals) and extrinsic factors (TGF-β) affect their fuel choices. This work has implications for the design of better drugs that can either specifically enhance or inhibit Tregs and therefore be used for treating patients suffering from either autoimmune diseases/ transplant rejection or cancer respectively.

(Summary submitted by Bhavana Priyadharshini, PhD, Center for Transplantation)


COMPARING MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS TREATMENTS IN ADOLESCENTS
Trial of Fingolimod versus Interferon Beta-1a in Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis
Chitnis T, Arnold DL, Banwell B, Brück W, Ghezzi A, Giovannoni G [et al.], Gärtner J.
Published in New England Journal of Medicine on September 13, 2018

Fingolimod and beta-interferon-1 are two of the more popular treatments for relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS) in adults; however, treatment of patients younger than 18 years of age with MS has not been adequately examined in randomized trials. PARADIGMS is a multicenter randomized controlled study that compares oral fingolimod to injectable beta-interferon-1a in children with MS between 10-17 years of age. Fingolimod was associated with a significantly lower rate of relapse and less accumulation of lesions on MRI over a two-year period than interferon beta-1a but was associated with a higher rate of serious adverse events. Based on this study, Fingolimod was approved for pediatric MS by the FDA. Longer-duration trials are needed to determine the durability and the safety of fingolimod in this population.

(Summary submitted by Tanuja Chitnis, MD, Department of Neurology)


INSIGHTS INTO SKIN CANCER PREVENTION
Autophagy Controls CSL/RBPJκ Stability Through a p62/SQSTM1-Dependent Mechanism
Goruppi S, Jo SH, Laszlo C, Clocchiatti A, Neel V, Dotto GP.
Published in Cell Reports on September 18, 2018

Cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAF) help to promote the growth of tumor cells. The CSL/RPBJk protein suppresses the process that activates these fibroblasts, though little has been known about the factors that regulate CSL protein levels in the cell. In our study, we demonstrate that autophagy (a physiological process where cellular components break down and are recycled) serves to lower CSL levels through an association with the signaling adaptor p62/SQSTM1. We also demonstrated that genetic or pharmacological interventions designed to prevent autophagy help to maintain higher CSL levels. This is significant because CSL and p62 levels are lower in skin cancer-related CAFs, while the rate of autophagy is higher. Thus, strategies designed to limit autophagy could help in skin cancer prevention and treatment.

(Summary submitted by Sandro Goruppi, PhD, Department of Dermatology)


IDENTIFYING BARRIERS TO PrEP AND HIV PREVENTION
Being PrEPared - Preexposure Prophylaxis and HIV Disparities
Goldstein RH, Streed CG Jr, Cahill SR.
Published in New England Journal of Medicine on September 19, 2018

If current trends persist, one in six U.S. men who have sex with men (MSM) will be infected with HIV in their lifetime. While this is a staggering statistic, it does not tell the full story. Of the nearly 40,000 new HIV infections that occurred in the U.S. in 2016, nearly half were in black or Latino MSM, and 52% occurred in the southern U.S. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) – taking a single pill daily to decrease the risk of HIV acquisition – is a tool that could address these disparities. In this piece, we identify the barriers to PrEP expansion to those at highest risk. Confronting these barriers is a critical public health intervention to address stigma against the gay, bisexual, and transgender communities, and to end the HIV epidemic.

(Summary submitted by Robert H. Goldstein, MD, PhD, Division of Infectious Diseases)


UNDERSTANDING PEDIATRICIANS' ATTITUDES TOWARD VALUE-BASED PAYMENT
General Pediatricians and Value-Based Payments
Tieder JS, Sisk B, Hudak M, Richerson JE, Perrin JM.
Published in Pediatrics on September 20, 2018

With the goal of improving the quality of healthcare, payment models are emerging that emphasize value over volume. Using a survey of American Academy of Pediatrics members, we examined general pediatricians’ attitudes toward value-based payment. Over half had experience with value-based payment, but pediatricians had mixed perspectives on the impact of these models on their ability to provide patient care. However, pediatricians with value-based payment experience were substantially more likely to view those models positively. These findings suggest that transforming pediatric healthcare from a system driven by volume to one focused on value will require ongoing physician engagement and feedback.

(Summary submitted by James M. Perrin, MD, FAAP, Massachusetts General Hospital for Children)


PINPOINTING GENETIC MARKERS FOR TYPE 2 DIABETES
Type 2 Diabetes Genetic Loci Informed By Multi-Trait Associations Point to Disease Mechanisms and Subtypes: A Soft Clustering Analysis
Udler MS, Kim J, von Grotthuss M, Bonàs-Guarch S, Cole JB, Chiou J [et al.], Florez JC.
Published in PLOS Medicine on September 21, 2018

Type 2 diabetes is a clinically heterogeneous disease, and its causal biological pathways are not well understood. Since dozens of genetic markers have been implicated in type 2 diabetes risk, we developed a method to group them into clusters based on their associations with diabetes-related traits. We identified five novel clusters, two related to insulin deficiency and three related to insulin resistance. The genetic markers in each cluster pointed to pathways that appeared to act in physiologically relevant human tissues. When we examined 17,365 individuals with type 2 diabetes, people carrying the most markers for each cluster had clinical traits that could distinguish them from other individuals with type 2 diabetes. Classification of individuals by these genetic pathways may offer a first step toward precision medicine in type 2 diabetes.

(Summary submitted by Miriam Udler, MD, PhD, Department of Endocrinology)


STUDYING PATTERNS OF DYNAMIC BRAIN ACTIVITY
Neurogenetic Profiles Delineate Large-Scale Connectivity Dynamics of the Human Brain
Diez I, Sepulcre J.
Published in Nature Communications on September 24, 2018

Attractor dynamics have been discovered in neural circuits, but it is not clear if they exist at the level of whole-brain activity. Here, the authors show that certain brain regions act as nodes in which many activity ‘streams’ converge. This suggests that attractor dynamics exist at the large-scale level, regardless of brain state. These regions show distinctive gene expression.

(Summary submitted by Jorge Sepulcre, MD, PhD, Department of Radiology)


NEW FINDINGS SHOW SEX-SPECIFIC DIFFERENCES IN BRAIN DEVELOPMENT
Microglial Dopamine Receptor Elimination Defines Sex-Specific Nucleus Accumbens Development and Social Behavior in Adolescent Rats
Kopec AM, Smith CJ, Ayre NR, Sweat SC, Bilbo SD.
Published in Nature Communications on September 25, 2018

We found that the immune cells of the brain, called microglia, play a crucial role in brain development during adolescence in a sex-specific way. During adolescence, microglia and other immune proteins eliminate dopamine receptors in a reward-associated region of the brain called the nucleus accumbens, and this immune process shapes normal changes in social behavior that occur during adolescent development. Interestingly, this occurs only in males and not in females. Dopamine receptors do change during adolescence in females, but we don’t yet know the mechanism by which this occurs.

(Summary submitted by Ashley Kopec, PhD, Department of Pediatrics)


WEIGHING THE BENEFITS AND RISKS OF ANTICOAGULANTS
Effect of Variation in Published Stroke Rates on the Net Clinical Benefit of Anticoagulation for Atrial Fibrillation
Shah SJ, Eckman MH, Aspberg S, Go AS, Singer DE.
Published in Annals of Internal Medicine on September 25, 2018

Individuals who have a particular type of irregular heart rate known as atrial fibrillation are more likely to have strokes than those without this abnormality. Most strokes are caused by blood clots in the brain, and drugs that slow down clotting can reduce the risk for stroke in many of these people. Anticoagulants dramatically lower stroke risk in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF), but raise the risk of major bleeding. The goal is to use these drugs when the benefit from stroke prevention is greater than the harm from extra bleeding. AF patients at higher risk for stroke benefit more from anticoagulant medication.  Researchers used computer models to quantify the benefit of anticoagulation in terms of length and quality of life according to patient features and they identified crucial areas of uncertainty that future research should address.

(Summary submitted by Daniel Singer, MD, Division of General Internal Medicine)


INVESTIGATING THE IMMUNE CHECKPOINTS OF MICROGLIA
Microglia in Neurodegeneration
Hickman S, Izzy S, Sen P, Morsett L, El Khoury J.
Published in Nature Neuroscience on September 26, 2018

In this manuscript we propose a novel paradigm for neurodegenerative diseases. Specifically, we propose that similar to what has been described for the immune system in cancer, the brain’s innate immune cells, known as microglia have several “immune checkpoints” that are different from the immune checkpoints in cancer. These microglial immune checkpoints help control the response of microglia in several neurodegenerative diseases. Dysregulation of these checkpoints leads to a microglial response gone awry, and helps initiate or worsen neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ALS and others. These immune checkpoints include Trem2, Cx3cr1, and progranulin and are likely to be important targets for treatment of neurodegenerative diseases similar to the immune checkpoints in cancer.

(Summary submitted by Joseph El Khoury, MD, Division of Infectious Diseases)


Press Releases

Alzheimer's-associated Tau Protein Disrupts Molecular Transport Within Neurons
Featuring Bradley Hyman, MD, PhD

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.


Mass General Study Shows How Exercise Generates New Brain Neurons and Improves Cognition in an Alzheimer's Mouse Model
Featuring Rudolph Tanzi, PhD, and Se Hoon Choi, PhD

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.


FRESH Program Combines Basic Science with Social Benefits for Women at Risk of HIV
Featuring Krista Dong, MD and Bruce Walker, MD

A program established by investigators from the Ragon Institute of Mass General, 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.


Immune Cell Pruning of Dopamine Receptors May Modulate Behavioral Changes in Adolescence
Featuring Staci Bilbo, PhD, and Ashley Kopec, PhD

A study by MassGeneral Hospital for Children researchers finds that the immune cells of the brain called microglia play a crucial role in brain development during adolescence, but that role is different in males and females.


Extracellular RNA in Urine May Provide Useful Biomarkers for Muscular Dystrophy
Featuring Thurman Wheeler, MD

Massachusetts General Hospital researchers have found that extracellular RNA in urine may be a source of biomarkers for the two most common forms of muscular dystrophy, and noninvasively provide information about whether therapeutic drugs are having the desired effects on a molecular level.


Olfactory Cells May Act as "Trojan Horse," Carry Anticancer Therapy to Deadly Brain Tumors
Featuring Bakhos Tannous, PhD

Massachusetts General Hospital researchers have found that a special type of cell essential to the ability of olfactory neurons to regenerate may be genetically engineered to deliver anticancer therapy to the dangerous brain tumors called glioblastomas.


Research Teams Find Widespread Inflammation in the Brains of Fibromyalgia Patients
Featuring Marco Loggia, PhD

A study by Massachusetts General Hospital researchers – collaborating with a team at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden – has documented for the first-time widespread inflammation in the brains of patients with the poorly understood condition called fibromyalgia.


Blog Posts

Bringing a 70-Year-Old Surgical Technique Into the 21st Century
Featuring Victor Neel, MD, PhD

Dr. Neel is evaluating a new technology to modernize Mohs surgery. He hopes this device will improve surgeons’ accuracy and ultimately improve patient outcomes while decreasing costs.


Exploring Sleep-Disease Links
Featuring Richa Saxena, PhD

Dr. Saxena, a principal investigator for the Center for Genomic Medicine, is looking at the genetics of sleep and its link to disease.


Shear Inspiration: Can Beauty Salons Connect South African Women to Life Saving Health Services?
Featuring Ingrid Bassett, MD, MPH

Hairstylists often serve as friends and confidants, dispensing advice on relationships, family and work challenges. But could they also help to prevent unwanted pregnancies and stop the spread of a deadly disease? That’s the question Ingrid Bassett, MD, MPH, will be exploring in a pilot study in the township of Umlazi near Durban, South Africa.


Congrats to the 2018 KL2/CMeRIT Awardees from Mass General

The KL2/Catalyst Medical Research Investigator Training (CMeRIT) program provides advanced training in clinical and translational research to senior fellows and junior faculty from all health professions represented by Harvard Catalyst, including medicine, dentistry, and nursing. Congratulations to this year’s winners from Massachusetts General Hospital!


Mass General Researcher Finds that Earlier Palliative Care Improves Patient Quality of Life in Serious Illnesses
Featuring Jennifer Temel, MD

Jennifer Temel, MD, a Hostetter MGH Research Scholar, is studying the effects of palliative care on quality of life for patients with serious illnesses. Here are five things to know.


Postdoc Profile: Anna Khimchenko, PhD

Anna Khimchenko, PhD, is a postdoctoral research fellow conducting interdisciplinary, translational research in the Tearney Laboratory at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine. She is focused on evolving micro-optical coherence tomography (μOCT) imaging capabilities to address the needs of the cystic fibrosis community.


Postdoc Profile: Michael VanElzakker, PhD

Michael VanElzakker, PhD, is a neuroscientist at Mass General who is using brain scans to learn more about chronic fatigue syndrome. He is researching the role of ongoing central nervous system inflammation in this condition, and is working to understand what exactly makes patients feel so sick the day after aerobic exercise.


Postdoc Profile: Yangyundou Wang, PhD

Yangyundou Wang, PhD, is a postdoctoral fellow working in the Vakoc Lab at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine. Her work combines applied optics, theoretical physics and biomedical engineering to develop a new way to treat burn victims.


A Closer Look at the Bacteria Behind the Recent Food Poisoning Outbreak
Featuring Christina Faherty, PhD

Clostridium perfringens is a common foodborne illness ‎that causes nearly 1 million infections each year. The bacterium has many environmental sources, but is typically found on raw meat and poultry.


New Treatment for Bone Disorder has Roots in Research from Mass General Hospital for Children
Featuring Harald Jueppner, MD

Harold Jueppner, MD, chief of Pediatric Nephrology, has been studying XLH and the effects of excessive loss of phosphate into the urine. His research provided the framework for two pharmaceutical companies to develop a new treatment for rickets.