Stephen J. Haggarty, Ph.D.

Stephen Haggarty is the director of Chemical Neurobiology for the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at the Broad Institute. A senior associate member at the Broad, he is also a faculty member at Harvard Medical School and the Center for Human Genetic Research at Massachusetts General Hospital. His overall research interest is to gain a fundamental understanding of the molecular mechanisms of neuroplasticity that underlie the ability of the nervous system to sense, adapt, and respond to a variety of internal and external stimuli. His long-term goal is to translate this knowledge into the discovery of novel targeted therapeutics for the treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders.

Since its inception in 2006, the Chemical Neurobiology Laboratory that Haggarty directs has developed multiple neuronal cell-based assays to support the investigation of candidate disease gene function using multi-parametric automated microscopy, laser scanning cytometry, along with functional genomic, biochemical, and proteomic techniques. These assays have allowed his laboratory to investigate the response of neuronal cells to thousands of different chemical probes and have led to the discovery, characterization, and optimization of novel chemical probes of critical neuroplasticity processes - the regulation of neurotrophic factor signaling, the epigenetic regulation of neuronal gene expression, and the regulation of Wnt/GSK-3 signaling. Through collaborations with members of the Harvard, MIT, and Broad research community, Haggarty’s laboratory has begun to investigate the effects of targeting these new molecular mechanisms on memory and mood using rodent behavioral models relevant to cognition and affective behavior.

Haggarty’s laboratory has also been at the forefront of the application of methods for generating patient-specific stem cell models of neuropsychiatric disorders using reprogramming technology. These stem cells can be differentiated in vitro into functional neurons with the capacity to form synapses and regulate genes in an activity-dependent manner, opening new avenues for studies of neuroplasticity and neuropharmacology. In addition to generating new patient-specific stem cell models, a number of ongoing projects in Haggarty’s laboratory seek to advance a platform for human experimental neurobiology and novel therapeutic discovery based around the use of stem-cell human neurons for functional genomic studies in combination with high-throughput screening.

Haggarty received a B.Sc. in genetics from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, and a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Harvard University in the laboratory of Stuart Schreiber.

November 2012