The Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research
|Research type||A scientific community exploring biology's most fundamental questions for the betterment of human health|
Field of research
|Cancer, Stem Cell, Immunology, Developmental Biology, Regenerative Medicine, Genetics, Genomics|
|Affiliations||Massachusetts Institute of Technology|
Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research is a non-profit research institute located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States that is dedicated to improving human health through basic biomedical research. It was founded as a fiscally independent entity from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where its 17 members all hold faculty appointments in the MIT Department of Biology or the MIT Department of Bioengineering. Two members (Rudolf Jaenisch, 2010, and Robert Weinberg, 1997) are National Medal of Science recipients; ten have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences; and four have been elected to the National Academy of Medicine; four are Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators.
Whitehead Institute was founded in 1982 by industrialist and philanthropist Edwin C. “Jack” Whitehead (1920–1992), who sought to establish a research institute dedicated to improving human health through basic biomedical science". Whitehead believed that while such an institution should be closely affiliated with an academic institution, it should remain wholly independent and self-governing. In David Baltimore (1975 Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine), Whitehead found a partner who agreed that this approach would create an "optimum environment for basic research". As Whitehead Institute's Founding Director, Baltimore handpicked Harvey Lodish, and Robert Weinberg from MIT, Gerald Fink from Cornell University, and Rudolf Jaenisch from University of Hamburg, Germany, to be Whitehead Institute's Founding Members. This group then identified promising younger scientists to be the first generation of Whitehead Members; and they established the Whitehead Fellows Program as a vehicle for accelerating the careers of highly promising young investigators.
Less than a decade after its founding, the Institute for Scientific Information in Philadelphia identified Whitehead as the top research institution in the world in molecular biology and genetics, based on the impact of its scientific publications. Whitehead Institute's Center for Genome Research became the single largest contributor to the Human Genome Project, and reportedly contributed one-third of the human genome sequence announced in June 2000.
Whitehead Institute's influence continues. Over a 10-year period, papers published by Whitehead scientists had more impact in molecular biology and genetics than those from any of the 15 leading research universities and life sciences institutes in the United States. Training and education is integral to Whitehead Institute's mission and approximately 300 undergraduates, graduate students, post-doctoral researchers, and visiting scientists are integrally engaged in its research programs. Four times since 2009, the Whitehead Institute has been ranked first as the Best Place to Work for Postdocs in USA by The Scientist magazine.
Today, Whitehead scientists run research programs in cancer biology, developmental biology, genetics and genomics, metabolism, neurodevelopment and neurodegenerative disease, and regenerative medicine. In addition, numerous biotech companies have been launched by Whitehead Members or based on intellectual property developed at the Institute, such as Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Sanofi Genzyme, Ironwood Pharmaceuticals, Rubius Therapeutics, and Verastem.
In 2019, according to the NACUBO report, Institute had an endowment of $527.9 million.
The Whitehead faculty currently comprises 17 members whose laboratories focus on biology's most fundamental questions. The Members, who are all also MIT faculty members, are:
The Whitehead Fellows Program provides an opportunity for highly accomplished recent PhDs to direct their own labs, rather than work in a senior researcher's lab as a traditional postdoctoral researcher. Fellows receive dedicated lab space and funds for equipment, lab operations, salary, and core staffing. They also receive mentoring from Whitehead Faculty Members, who serve as resources and integrate the Fellows into the Institute's collaborative culture. Past Whitehead Fellows include George Q. Daley, Dean of Harvard Medical School; Angelika Amon, MIT professor and cancer researcher; Eric Lander, President and Founding Director of Broad Institute; Kathleen Rubins, NASA astronaut and space biologist; David C. Page, Whitehead Institute Director; and Peter S. Kim, former President of Merck Research Laboratories.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Whitehead Institute.|