• 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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  • Investigating blood cells’ wiring

    Haley Bridger, January 20th, 2011

    Today, a team led by researchers from the Broad and Brigham and Women’s Hospital published a paper about the elaborate circuitry that directs blood cell specialization. Every day, 200 billion newly minted blood cells are produced from a small cache of stem cells in the bone marrow – the soft material in the center of most bones. Different kinds of white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets each emerge from a unique program that controls their maturation.

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  • Five Questions for Matthew Meyerson

    Haley Bridger, January 18th, 2011 | Filed under

    Senior associate member Matthew Meyerson recalls the line that opens the novel Anna Karenina: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Just like unhappy families, every cancer genome that he and his colleagues study is abnormal in its own way. But by looking across cancer samples and cancer types, researchers are beginning to appreciate cancer’s patterns of convergence.

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  • All creatures great and small, and furry and cold-blooded and fungal…

    Haley Bridger, January 14th, 2011 | Filed under

    This weekend, several Broad researchers will be in sunny San Diego (those of us in snowy Cambridge are a bit jealous…) presenting at the annual Plant and Animal Genome Conference. I caught up with a few researchers before they left to find out more about what they’ll be presenting.

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  • The Broad Institute is closed on January 12, 2011.

    Haley Bridger, January 12th, 2011

    The Broad Institute is expected to open for normal business hours on Thursday, January 13, 2011.

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  • Creature Feature: Ferrets

    Haley Bridger, January 10th, 2011 | Filed under

    Ferrets sneeze – just like we do. The way that ferrets shed viruses from their lungs is very similar to the way that humans do, which makes them a great model for studying respiratory illnesses like pneumonia, SARS, cystic fibrosis, and the flu. Researchers also use ferrets to study lung cancer, brain development, and reproductive biology. But until now, the ferret’s genome has remained a mystery.

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  • Five Questions for Manolis Kellis

    Haley Bridger, December 23rd, 2010 | Filed under

    If you were to plot out the locations of the approximately 23,000 genes that make us human, our genome would look like a vast desert, dotted with rare gene oases. The ENCODE Project aims to map these supposed genetic wastelands, which upon closer examination, harbor critical genomic machinery. These signals are encoded in diverse functional genomic elements that determine, among their many other functions, how and when genes are turned on and turned off.

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  • Serena Silver conducts a symphony of RNA silence

    Haley Bridger, December 13th, 2010 | Filed under

    As a post-doctoral researcher in Harvard Medical School investigator (and Broad Associate Member) Norbert Perrimon's lab, Serena Silver loved talking to her fellow post-docs about their projects and liked to help them come up with new ideas to try. Now, as Group Leader of RNAi Screening Projects at the Broad, Serena gets to talk to researchers about their projects for a living.

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  • AIDS and global health

    Haley Bridger, December 3rd, 2010

    Last month, we wrote about results from a collaborative project at the Broad Institute and Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard that aims to discover why some people can keep HIV in check, with the ultimate goal of finding insights that could help scientists build an HIV vaccine. Researchers at the Broad are tackling this mystery by examining genetic clues in people as well as their viral populations. In human DNA, researchers have homed in on a protein that plays a key role in immunity: HLA-B.

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