Meet Our Researchers


Institute Scientist, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard
Senior Director, Imaging Platform, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard

Anne Carpenter is a pioneer in building scalable, user-friendly technologies for extracting data from images. She directs a lab of biologists and computer scientists who develop and use advanced machine learning methods to identify important patterns in cell populations. Anne’s team is best known for developing CellProfiler, the first open-source software for cell–image analysis.

Project Description

New therapies are urgently needed for patients with psychiatric disorders, but developing these drugs is an especially lengthy process. Anne’s lab wants to accelerate the timeline by finding new, efficient methods to test potential therapies in the early stages of their development.

The Question

It can take years for a drug for psychiatric disorders to reach clinical trials, let alone pass the trials with flying colors. My team wondered: Could we invent a more efficient method to test potential treatments, thereby de-risking the lengthy (and often pricey) drug-development process for industry?

The Approach

Collaborating with McLean Hospital, my team will use BroadIgnite funding to study skin cells from patients with four different psychiatric diseases: schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder, and major depression. We will then use our CellProfiler software to learn how the cells of patients differ from those of unaffected individuals—and also how the cells differ among the four disease groups. This study could lead to the development of new therapeutics, since drug makers could efficiently test their potential drugs on cell lines derived from patient skin cells—well before clinical trials come into play.