News from the Broad

The Broad Institute is committed to open sharing not only of its scientific data and tools, but also information and news about our progress towards achieving our mission. Below are just a few highlights from the Broad scientific community.
  • The wisdom of crowding: Study reveals role of molecular crowding in lipid droplet protein composition

    August 25th, 2015

    Lipid droplets (LDs) are structures that store fat within cells and change size based on energy availability. However, LDs do not function on their own: they require the help of proteins to carry out their metabolic duties. In a recent Developmental Cell paper, researchers from the Broad Institute, Harvard Medical School, and Yale School of Medicine sought to determine what factors influence the composition of such proteins. Results showed that a process known as “molecular crowding” — in which proteins fall off the surface of LDs as they shrink — could be responsible.

  • International research institutes team up to build new schizophrenia patient collections

    August 19th, 2015
    Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM) at the University of Helsinki and the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, together with its international partners, are initiating major new sample collections in several regions and countries. The goal is to collect up to 50,000 samples from schizophrenia patients across the globe. The first collection will be established in Finland, where the...
    Read Full Story
  • Study sheds light on role of HLA
 gene variants in autoimmune diseases

    August 18th, 2015

    Human leukocyte antigen (HLA) genes encode proteins found on the surface of cells, which help regulate our immune systems. These genes vary tremendously within the population, and such variations can lead to a high risk for, or protection from, autoimmune disorders. In a letter published in Nature Genetics, a team led by Broad researcher Soumya Raychaudhuri and Paul de Bakker of University Medical Center Utrecht (Netherlands) showed evidence that two different versions of certain HLA genes may work together to heighten the risk of autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, and celiac disease — potentially explaining differences between individuals with these diseases.

  • Researchers identify small molecule that affects cellular disease phenotypes linked to autophagy

    August 12th, 2015

    Human genetic studies have implicated the regulation of autophagy (the process by which cells break themselves down) in inflammation, neurodegeneration, infection, and autoimmunity. This has led scientists to search for small-molecules that might enhance autophagy in order to shed light on its role in disease. In the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Broad researchers described one such effort: the team screened nearly 60,000 small molecules and found one, BRD5631, that affects several cellular disease phenotypes linked to autophagy. The researchers believe that studying the molecule’s mechanism of action may reveal therapeutically beneficial ways to modulate autophagy in the context of disease.

  • New automated process accelerates generation of induced pluripotent stem cells

    August 11th, 2015

    Reprogramming adult cells to a stem cell-like state can provide researchers with tools to help illuminate the role genetic differences play in disease development and potentially regenerate tissue in the wake of injury. However, these induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) are difficult to create. In a study published this week in Nature Methods, researchers, including Kevin Eggan, Alexander Tsankov, and Alexander Meissner of the Broad Institute and Harvard Stem Cell Institute, describe an automated, robotic process that efficiently generates iPSC lines — a new approach that could facilitate studies with these cells.