Areas of Focus

The 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 Institute scientists are working to extend this knowledge by identifying all of the functional elements in the human genome and revealing how these working parts vary both in humans and other species.
  • 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.
  • Uncover the molecular basis of major inherited diseases. The biological underpinnings of most inherited diseases remain a mystery, hampering efforts to prevent and treat them. Through comprehensive studies of genetic variation in human populations, Broad Institute researchers are working to identify the biological factors that influence susceptibility to a wide range of human diseases.
  • Unearth all the mutations that underlie different cancer types. Cancer is a genomic disease in which cells accumulate genetic alterations (called “mutations”) that confer new, often deadly properties. Broad scientists are creating systematic catalogues of these changes across different types of tumors, laying a foundation for the development of new cancer therapies as well as new diagnostic tools.
  • Discover the molecular basis of major infectious diseases. 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.
  • Transform the process of therapeutic discovery and development. Pharmaceutical science has not kept pace with biomedical discovery: only a tiny fraction of human gene products are now targeted for therapeutic benefit. Broad scientists are exploring ways to innovate the drug-discovery process, including synthesizing chemicals of unprecedented diversity; testing candidate drugs on living cells and tissues; pioneering methods to rapidly identify drug targets; optimizing drug efficacy and safety; and uncovering ways to increase the accuracy and efficiency of clinical trials.