Blog

  • Marfan syndrome: from gene to drug

    Haley Bridger, April 29th, 2011

    Last week, Dr. Hal Dietz came to the Broad Institute to talk to researchers from the Broad’s Program in Medical Population Genetics (MPG) and others about his work on a rare and debilitating disease called Marfan syndrome. It’s estimated that about 200,000 people in the United States have this disease, which strikes the body’s connective tissue.

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  • Lifestyles of the fungal and famous

    Haley Bridger, April 27th, 2011 | Filed under

    Yeast is not an organism; it is a lifestyle. Most people are familiar with baker’s yeast, a unicellular species that makes bread rise, ferments alcoholic beverages, and is used as a simple system for understanding cellular biology. But there are actually over 1,500 known species of yeast – a term that simply means single-celled fungi.

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  • The life and times of an mRNA molecule

    Haley Bridger, April 26th, 2011 | Filed under

    There’s a lot more happening in your cells than you might think. In a paper published online April 24 in the journal Nature Biotechnology, a team of Broad researchers describe a new technique that allows them to peer into the world of messenger RNA (mRNA), the molecule that carries the instructions for creating a protein to the site where proteins are made. Without mRNA, a gene's instructions will never be translated into a product.

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  • No “fooling” around

    Haley Bridger, April 1st, 2011

    No joke: today may be April Fool’s Day, but the BroadMinded Blog crew isn’t fooling around. We’ve gathered some of our favorite strange but true facts about chemical biology, population genetics, and the twists and turns of the genome. A special thanks to Alice McCarthy and Leah Eisenstadt for helping gather these.

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  • Word of the day: Metabolites

    Haley Bridger, March 21st, 2011 | Filed under

    Chemical reactions are constantly happening in the body as molecules are assembled or broken down. These internal molecules are called metabolites, and more than 6,000 can be found in humans. Metabolites include amino acids, vitamins, hormones, and just about any other naturally occurring molecule that is not DNA, RNA, or protein. Metabolite profiling, or metabolomics, is the study of the levels of all of the body's naturally occurring small molecules.

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  • I’ll take machine learning for $1,000, Alex

    Haley Bridger, March 1st, 2011

    Millions of viewers tuned in to Jeopardy to see IBM’s artificial intelligence software “Watson” compete against two of Jeopardy’s most celebrated champions. Despite a few amusing follies (for a Final Jeopardy clue about U.S. cities, Watson answered, “What is Toronto?????”), Watson beat his opponents quite handily.

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  • Broad highlights from AGBT 2011

    Haley Bridger, February 25th, 2011 | Filed under

    In the world of genome research, the annual Advances in Genome Biology and Technology (AGBT) meeting in Marco Island, Florida, is awaited with great anticipation: it is the time of year when companies often unveil the latest and greatest sequencing technologies that send ripples of excitement through the blogosphere.

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  • Faster diagnosis for heart attacks

    Haley Bridger, February 18th, 2011

    An ambulance brings a patient to the hospital with chest pains, shortness of breath, and nausea. Is it a panic attack? Or is it a heart attack? Diagnosing a myocardial infarction (heart attack) quickly is critical: heart attacks kill more than 600,000 people in the United States every year, but if a doctor can diagnose and begin treating a patient within the “golden hour” following a heart attack, the patient’s chances of survival and recovery improve substantially.

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  • What is a translocation?

    Haley Bridger, February 10th, 2011 | Filed under

    DNA is powerful but delicate. At only 2 nanometers in diameter (a nanometer is the equivalent of one millionth of a millimeter), it is a fine thread that can snap during the process of cell replication. Each of our cells is equipped with DNA repair machinery, which, when it is working properly, detects and immediately repairs any breaks. But if something goes wrong during this process, the consequences can be disastrous. Under rare circumstances, the repair machinery can accidentally reattach a broken-off piece of DNA to the wrong chromosome.

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  • A tale of TAL effectors

    Haley Bridger, February 8th, 2011 | Filed under

    Two years ago, researchers in Germany discovered a new and potentially very powerful biological tool that bacteria have been wielding as a weapon against their plant hosts. By secreting special proteins known as TAL (transcription activator-like) effectors, species of Xanthomonas bacteria can manipulate the genome of the plants that they infect, activating plant genes that allow the bacteria to flourish. In 2009, researchers broke the protein’s code, revealing how TAL effectors bind to host genomes.

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