Midsummer Nights' Science 2017

2017 Lectures

Wednesday, August 9, 6-7pmVideo ]
Robots vs. disease:
How microscopes are aiding the discovery of new medicines 

While scientists are identifying more and more diseases, the pace of discovery for new, life-saving drugs remains astonishingly slow. In this talk, Anne will cover how automated microscopes and advanced software may transform the drug discovery pipeline by providing new and more rapid insights into cellular biology.

Anne Carpenter
Anne Carpenter is the director of the Imaging Platform at the Broad Institute, where she leads a team of biologists and computer scientists in developing open-source image analysis and data exploration methods and software. Her team works across many of the Broad’s programs and platforms, and with dozens of biomedical research groups around the world, to help identify disease states, therapeutic potential, and gene function using image analysis methods. Carpenter’s team also developed and released CellProfiler, the first open-source, high-throughput cell image analysis software.

Carpenter has received recognition and research funding from numerous groups including the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. She has been featured in a public television special, “Bold Visions: Women in Science & Technology,” and named a “Rising Young Investigator” by Genome Technology magazine. CellProfiler was awarded the Best Practices Award by Bio-IT World in 2009.

Carpenter earned her B.S. from Purdue University and her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She studied with David Sabatini of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research and Polina Golland at the Computer Science/Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


Wednesday, July 26, 6-7pm[ Video ]
Precision medicine in diabetes

What is diabetes? Why do some people develop diabetes and others do not? Could prevention and treatment be individualized for each patient? Using diabetes as a case study, Jose Florez will discuss the emerging approach of precision medicine — a quest to unravel the genetic basis of diseases and their complications in order to provide a basis for effective, tailored therapies. Florez will illustrate the power of contemporary genetics to address these crucial areas.

Jose Florez
Jose Florez is an endocrinologist and chief of the Diabetes Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School, and an institute member at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, where he co-directs the Metabolism Program.

Florez and his group have contributed to high-throughput genome-wide association and sequencing studies of type 2 diabetes and related traits in the Diabetes Genetics Initiative (formed by the Broad Institute, Lund University, and Novartis), the Framingham Heart Study, and other international consortia. In addition to his research and teaching duties, Florez is clinically active in the MGH Diabetes Center, the endocrine inpatient consult service, and the Down Syndrome Program.

Florez is an author on more than 125 original publications and more than 40 reviews and book chapters. He has received multiple awards and honors during his career, including the 2010 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers. Florez earned his Ph.D. at Northwestern University and his M.D. at Northwestern University Medical School.


Wednesday, July 19, 6-7pm [ Video ]
Pre-malignancies and the prevention of cancer

Cancer is caused by a series of mutations that are acquired, in many cases, over many years. But in the beginning, the initiating mutations can lead to a pre-malignant lesion (such as a polyp in the colon) before causing full-fledged disease. Benjamin Ebert will discuss his lab’s work in learning about these pre-malignancies, their clinical consequences, and how to detect them — raising the question of whether clinicians could use this information to prevent the development of some cancers.

Benjamin Ebert
Benjamin Ebert is an institute member of the Broad Institute, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, leader of the Leukemia Program for the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center, and co-director of the Cancer Program at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute.

Ebert’s laboratory focuses on the molecular basis and treatment of cancers in the blood and lymphatic system, with a particular focus on a group of blood cancers called myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). In large-scale genetic analyses of patient samples, the lab has identified mutations that predict response to therapies in MDS patients and characterized a pre-malignant state of stem cells in bone marrow. In addition to human genetic studies, the lab has developed novel models to study such cancers. Ebert’s team uses genetic and small-molecule screens to identify novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of sickle cell disease and cancers of the blood and lymphatic system.

Ebert received a bachelor's degree from Williams College, a doctorate from Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship, and an M.D. from Harvard Medical School. He completed a residency in internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and a fellowship in hematology/oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute before pursuing postdoctoral research at the Broad Institute.


Wednesday, July 12, 6-7pm [ Video ]
The Eliana Hechter Memorial Lecture
Who we are and how we got here:
Ancient DNA and the new science of the human past

In 2010, the first genome-wide data from ancient humans was published. Since that time, the number of ancient genomes available has increased by three orders of magnitude, and the amount of data continues to rise at an extraordinary rate. These new data make it possible, for the first time, to understand how ancient human populations are related to each other. Studies have demonstrated surprise after surprise, including the existence of a previously unknown human population called the Denisovans and interbreeding between Neanderthals and modern humans. In this talk, David Reich will describe his laboratory’s work in the area of ancient DNA and the prospects for further discoveries about the past from this burgeoning field.

David Reich
David Reich is a senior associate member at the Broad Institute, a professor of genetics at Harvard University, and a Howard Hughes Medical Investigator. His lab studies medical and population genetics with a special focus on analyzing ancient DNA.

Reich majored in physics as an undergraduate and then pursued a D.Phil. in population genetics at Oxford University in the United Kingdom. He and his colleagues have made some surprising discoveries about human population movement and evolution, and have provided critical insights into the history of human biology.

Reich was one of the leaders of the team that first sequenced the genome of Neandertals. The researchers compared the Neandertal DNA to DNA of modern people from different continents and discovered that up to 4 percent of DNA from today's non-Africans derives from Neandertals — indicating that humans and Neandertals had children together. When Reich and colleagues sequenced the genome of one of the Denisovan people, close kin of the Neandertals who lived in Siberia more than 30,000 years ago, the analysis revealed further intermingling between modern humans and Denisovans. Denisovan genetic traces show up in today's inhabitants of Australia, New Guinea, and the Philippines, suggesting that Denisovans were once spread over an enormous geographic range.