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This is Broad

The institute was founded to seize the opportunity that arose from the Human Genome Project -- the international effort that successfully deciphered the entire human genetic code. Despite that accomplishment, scientists knew they still lacked a clear understanding of the genetic basis of disease, and how to translate that understanding into more effective prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.

To reach these goals, it was clear that a new type of research institution had to be created. The traditional academic model of individual laboratories working within their specific disciplines was not designed to meet the emerging challenges of biomedicine. To gain a comprehensive view of the human genome and biological systems, they instead had to work in a highly integrated fashion.

That meant working in nimble teams that combined biology, chemistry, mathematics, computation, and engineering with medical science and clinical research. It also meant working at a scale usually seen in industry, with access to world-class infrastructure. At the same time, this institution had to foster an atmosphere of creativity, risk-taking, and open sharing of data and research. Finally, this new model needed to seek collaborations beyond its borders.  

Broad Institute is an “experiment” in this new way of doing science. It spans some of Boston’s leading institutions (Harvard, MIT, and Harvard-affiliated hospitals) and scientific disciplines (biology, chemistry, medicine, computer science, and engineering). Today, the Broad community includes more than three thousand scientists, committed to advancing research in areas including infectious disease, cancer, psychiatric research, and cardiovascular disease.

Embedded in this new approach to doing science, are our values including:

  • Propelling the understanding and treatment of disease
    Broad Institute is empowering a revolution in biomedicine to accelerate the pace at which the world conquers disease.
  • Collaborating deeply
    Broad Institute is a mission-driven community that brings together researchers in medicine, biology, chemistry, computation, engineering, and mathematics from across MIT, Harvard, and the Harvard-affiliated hospitals, along with collaborators around the world.
  • Reaching globally
    Broad Institute is committed to addressing medical challenges across the world, including collaborating with scientists and public health experts to address important needs in developing countries
  • Empowering scientists
    Broad Institute fosters an environment in which scientists can take risks on bold ideas with transformative potential.
  • Building partnerships
    Broad Institute works to build and sustain international consortia to speed discovery in areas including psychiatric research, infectious disease, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
  • Sharing data and knowledge
    Broad Institute is committed to making the extensive data, methods, and technologies it generates rapidly and readily accessible to the scientific community to drive biomedical progress around the world.
    (Read about our principles for disseminating scientific innovations)
  • Promoting inclusion
    Broad Institute believes that progress in biomedical research requires a fully inclusive community across sex, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, and gender identity.

Areas of Focus

Broad Institute is committed to meeting the most critical challenges in biology and medicine. Broad scientists pursue a wide variety of projects that cut across scientific disciplines and institutions. Collectively, these projects aim to:

  • Assemble a complete picture of the molecular components of life. The Human Genome Project was only a first step in laying out the ”periodic table” of life. Broad scientists are working to extend this knowledge by identifying and studying the functional elements in the human genome and the epigenome.

  • Define the biological circuits that underlie cellular responses. Genomic elements work together in “circuits” that determine how cells in the body process information and respond to their surroundings. Researchers at the Broad are working to gain a complete understanding of this complex biological circuitry and how it functions in human health and disease. This includes the development of advanced laboratory tools such as CRISPR genome-editing and single-cell sequencing technologies.

  • Unlock the discoveries hidden inside complex sets of genomic and other biomedical data. Genomics is unleashing a flood of human data that could unlock the genetic basis of disease, but that data is of little use unless the world develops the tools needed to extract meaning from it. Broad researchers and engineers are developing, scaling up, and making widely available these best-in-class tools, including cloud-based platforms and powerful software that can analyze genomic datasets at unprecedented scale, accuracy, and speed. They are also connecting the dots between genomics and other health information in order to drive discoveries.

  • Develop and de-risk new therapeutic avenues to treat serious, complex human disease by understanding the biological mechanisms. Most medicine is still confined to addressing the symptoms of disease rather than the underlying causes. Drawing upon genetic discoveries, Broad scientists are uncovering the biology that leads to disease, including cancer, psychiatric disease, and immunological disease, in order to identify potential new drug targets and new treatment strategies. Research teams are also developing ways to innovate the early drug-discovery process, including pioneering methods to rapidly identify drug targets and test them on laboratory models and finding and testing new therapeutic possibilities for already FDA-approved drugs.

  • Discover the molecular basis of major infectious diseases and overcome antibiotic resistance. Viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens are responsible for an enormous burden of disease, especially in developing countries. Broad researchers are systematically defining the components in both pathogens and their hosts that enable pathogens to cause disease, knowledge that will bolster efforts to develop effective vaccines, rapid diagnostics, and new kinds of therapeutics.