Priorities

The Broad Institute pursues high-impact projects focused on major human diseases. Because of our collaborative, cross-disciplinary approach, these projects often involve researchers from various backgrounds and affiliations, allowing the Broad to leverage unparalleled resources. Our projects cover a wide spectrum of activities—from developing critical tools and methods to accelerate scientific discovery to large-scale studies to uncover disease risk–associated genes and lay the groundwork for new therapeutics. Below are the areas of research where we are seeking philanthropic partners. For more information on any of these funding priorities please contact Priya McCue, the Director of Principal Gifts, at pmccue@broadinstitute.org.

Cancer

Since the institute was founded in 2004, the Broad’s Cancer Program has been at the forefront of understanding the molecular mechanisms in cancer and applying that knowledge to the clinic. Over the past decade, the program has served as the flagship of international efforts to map the cancer genome. Our contributions have helped drive the latest generation of precision cancer medicine.

Despite the revolution in cancer medicine, we still don’t have cures. Broad cancer researchers are actively engaged in a range of activities, all for one purpose: to help the world cure cancer.

To do this, the program deploys the institute’s powerful capabilities in investigating genes and potential therapeutic targets. Our research is rigorously systematic and comprehensive, and is conducted at scale—an ability seldom seen in academia. Ongoing research projects range from developing more faithful disease models to gleaning valuable clinical information to help future cancer patients. Work is also underway to identify the cellular processes that cancers disrupt, what genes they need to survive, and how cancer cells become drug-resistant. Broad researchers are also developing drug leads for cancers previously deemed “undruggable.” We are also finding new ways to empower patients to share their genomic information in order to accelerate research. We are seeking philanthropic partners in the following ongoing projects:

  • Creating a comprehensive therapeutics roadmap to drive novel and targeted cancer therapies.

  • Discovering and characterizing the many unknown genes that drive cancer and treatment response, including cancer drug resistance, and enabling early detection and prevention.

  • Pioneering completely new approaches to cancer therapeutics, including next-generation cancer immunotherapy and drug targets that have been deemed “undruggable.”

News coverage on our cancer research

Infectious Disease

Infectious diseases exact a terrible human toll. An estimated 247 million people contract malaria each year, while about a third of the world’s population is infected with tuberculosis. And none of us are immune. Modern-day air travel and globalization have lowered the barriers for the spread of diseases such as multidrug resistant tuberculosis.

The Broad Institute is deeply committed to improving the lives of the hundreds of millions who suffer from these diseases in the developing world. We are dedicated to using the most advanced tools in genomics and biomedicine—and taking the same comprehensive, systematic approach as we do in other areas—to combat global epidemics.

Currently, our Infectious Disease Program is devoted to tackling the underlying biology of malaria, tuberculosis, cholera, and the Ebola virus, and developing powerful new weapons—laboratory tools, rapid diagnostics, and promising drug leads against these deadly diseases. To further accelerate progress against infectious diseases, Broad scientists collaborate closely with scientific partners in developing countries to share ideas, launch projects, and tackle key challenges together.

We are seeking philanthropic partners in the following ongoing projects:

  • Understanding the factors that influence patient outcomes and how infectious diseases evolve and spread.

  • Developing more sensitive and rapid methods for diagnosing disease and characterizing infection to guide treatment.

  • Creating new approaches to developing therapeutics, with a focus on emerging drug resistant strains of tuberculosis and other bacterial infections.

News coverage on our infectious disease research

Cardiometabolic disease

Metabolic syndrome—a cluster of risk factors that increases one’s susceptibility to heart disease, diabetes, and obesity—has reached epidemic levels in the United States. An estimated 34 percent of the U.S. population is affected, and rates of the disorder are rising worldwide.

While lifestyle factors like poor diet and lack of exercise contribute significantly to these disorders, they don’t fully explain why some populations are at a higher risk than others. The Broad Institute’s Medical and Population Genetics program seeks to understand how genomic variation contributes to disease risk and responses to treatment. By studying the genetic makeup of human populations, Broad researchers gain powerful insights into the biological mechanisms responsible for disease and can work to develop new therapies.

In recent years, researchers have discovered that rare genetic variants play an important role in disease susceptibility. But identifying rare genetic variants can be difficult, and often the only way to uncover them is to sequence the genomes of many thousands of individuals. Thanks to our network of international collaborators, Broad scientists have assembled large collections of samples for a number of diseases, including diabetes and heart disease, and discovered genetic mutations that contribute to—or protect against—their onset.

We are seeking philanthropic partners in the following projects:

  • Fully defining the genetic causes of cardiometabolic disease, including early-onset heart attack.

  • Finding promising targets by unlocking the biological mechanisms underlying the disease.

  • Driving the discovery and testing of novel therapeutics for promising targets.

News coverage on our research in cardiometabolic disorders

Psychiatric Disease

Serious psychiatric disorders are the leading cause of disability worldwide. However, research on these devastating diseases was long stalled because knowledge of their biological underpinnings remained elusive. Founded in 2007, the mission of the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research is to bring modern genomics to bear on psychiatric diseases and ease the burden for patients and their families.

Since its inception, the Stanley Center has helped reinvigorate the field of psychiatric disease research. Working with a global network of collaborators, Stanley Center researchers seek to construct the genetic architecture of major psychiatric diseases such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and autism. Already, they have assembled the world’s largest collection of DNA samples of psychiatric disease, and have developed cutting-edge tools and methods to analyze research findings. Ultimately, these discoveries will lead to an era of rational and effective treatments for patients coping with these devastating disorders.

We are seeking philanthropic partners in the following projects:

  • Defining the genetic factors that contribute to psychiatric diseases including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and autism.

  • Elucidating the biological effects of the genes and variants that have been discovered.

  • Developing the molecular tools to identify pathways and networks in human neural cell types.

  • Identifying the most promising therapeutic targets.

  • Applying genetic discoveries to better predict risk in human populations.

News coverage on our research in psychiatric disease

Immunology

The human immune system exists in a state of delicate balance. Too little activity leaves a person vulnerable to foreign invaders, but too much activity threatens to harm the body it is supposed to protect. In healthy people, the immune system achieves a state of tolerance, quelling defensive measures after a threat has abated.

But in autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and multiple sclerosis, immune cells mistakenly attack the body’s own tissues as if they were invaders.

Little is known about the molecular circuitry that maintains—or upsets—this fine equilibrium. Broad researchers seek to uncover the genes important in controlling the autoimmune response. By untangling the complicated interplay of genes and environment that leads to autoimmune disorders, scientists can ultimately point the way to new treatments.

We are seeking philanthropic partners in the following projects:

  • Discovering and fully defining the biological mechanism underlying autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.

  • Developing ways to predict these diseases.

  • Developing powerful new tools to characterize and exploit immune function, and drive the discovery and testing of novel therapeutics for autoimmune, inflammatory, and infectious diseases.

News coverage on our research in immunology

Learn more about FASI

Rare Disease

Patients with rare diseases are often severely ill, but in many cases standard diagnostic tools are unable to determine the exact genetic cause. As a result, so-called “undiagnosed” patients move from doctor to doctor for years, searching for answers. There are thought to be several thousand rare, or neglected, diseases that affect an estimated 25 million Americans. For a significant portion of these cases, the problem can be traced to mutations in a single gene.

Broad researchers develop and apply genomic approaches and bioinformatic methods to discover disease-causing mutations in neglected disease patients. By identifying the genomic basis of rare diseases, scientists can provide patients with definitive diagnoses. Additionally, they can then study the functions of the key genes that are discovered, and work towards developing effective therapies.

We are seeking philanthropic partners in the following projects:

  • Defining the genomic basis of disease classes, understanding the functions of the key genes that are discovered, and developing novel approaches to therapy.

  • Enabling clinicians to provide rare disease patients with definitive diagnoses.

    News coverage on our research in rare disease

Biological Engineering

Since our founding, the Broad has led efforts to develop the breakthrough technologies and methods that are driving the genomic revolution in medicine. From new software to DNA sample preparation to genome-editing tools, the Broad seeks to develop innovative technologies and methods that deliver new capabilities to the entire scientific community.

We are continually developing new processes, improving existing ones, and implementing early access to our portfolio of technologies. We aim to make the best technology accessible to scientists, as early as we possibly can.

To date, our researchers have created genome-engineering tools to precisely test genetic hypotheses in living cells. We have developed the world’s leading analytical software for and large-scale databases of genome sequences, human genetic variation, disease genes and cellular responses.

We are also advancing an exciting genome-engineering method called CRISPR/Cas9, which has proven to be incredibly accurate and precise. Led by Feng Zhang, an early pioneer in CRISPR, our researchers are now exploring the method’s therapeutic possibilities. If successful, they could usher in a new era of gene therapy that is far more effective than earlier attempts.

We are seeking philanthropic partners in the following projects:

  • Developing ways to automate and miniaturize processes, and thus accelerate research.

  • Developing and implementing more breakthrough methods to study cells one at a time.

  • Developing new methods for editing the genome and transcriptome (the complete set of RNA), and expanding our ability to zero in on biological targets in health and disease.

News coverage on our engineering projects

Cell Circuitry

Understanding how human cells function in health and disease requires a comprehensive picture of their components and interactions—and what happens when they malfunction. In 2012, the Klarman Family Foundation established the Klarman Cell Observatory (KCO) as a pilot effort to decipher the inner workings of human cells and foster new insights into the biological underpinnings of disease.

Led by core faculty member Aviv Regev, the KCO brings together scientists from across the Broad—biologists, computer scientists, and clinicians, among others. Together, they are developing innovative experimental and computational methods, which not only advance this emerging field but can also be broadly applied to other research areas. The Observatory also oversees close collaborations with scientists from Israel in order to help advance the country’s biomedical research. Activities include an annual symposium, fellowships and other training opportunities, and joint projects.

We are seeking philanthropic partners in the following projects:

  • Creating a human cell atlas.

  • Developing methods to understand the function and mechanisms of both coding and noncoding parts of the genome.

  • Deciphering the circuits of hallmark cells and tissues in key disease areas.

News coverage on our cell circuitry research

People

Our success rests on our single greatest resource: the people who make up the Broad community. From seasoned primary investigators to undergraduates, we are firmly committed to helping our researchers at all stages of their careers and empowering them to pursue their most ambitious projects.

The Broad invests in its scientists in a number of ways, including research grants, seed funding, fellowships, and scholarship programs. Initial funding by the Broad has led to important breakthroughs in cancer, single-cell sequencing methods, and psychiatric genetics, and helped establish the careers of talented young scientists.

We are currently seeking philanthropic partners in the following projects and programs:

Recruiting Junior Core Faculty Members: the Broad’s Core Faculty Members run laboratories that help make up the backbone of the institute. We seek to recruit new junior Core Faculty Members and be able to provide them with adequate support for their Broad-related research and activities.

Scholars Program: Collaboration is fundamental to the Broad. We were founded on the belief that we can dramatically accelerate the pace of scientific progress by fostering collaborations between scientists, laboratories, and institutions around the world. In order to nurture this unique environment, we wish to provide dedicated funding for senior Broad members for projects with a highly collaborative aspect.

Postdoctoral fellowships: At the Broad, we are committed to investing in the brightest young scientific minds. We seek to expand our postdoctoral fellowships to cover a wider range of disciplines and research areas.

Harvard MD/PhD students at the Broad: Harvard Medical School MD-PhD students spend 7 to 9 years of rigorous training to become excellent physicians and scientists. By training in both medicine and research, they are uniquely positioned to make a difference for patients. Many undertake their research training at Broad Institute labs. Support for these students to complete their medical studies will provide them an unmatched opportunity to conduct innovative research that transcends disciplines and technologies. Broad’s MD-PhD students go on to become biomedical leaders throughout the Boston community and beyond.

Seed/Pilot Funding for Early-Stage Science: The biggest breakthroughs in science come from the most creative, ambitious, and risk-taking ideas. In the current funding landscape, though, researchers are finding it increasingly difficult to find funding for these ideas. The Broad, however, is ready to take a bet on these ideas. We are deeply committed to nurturing early-stage ideas across our community by providing seed funding through the Scientific Projects to Accelerate Research (SPARC) program and the newly launched BroadIgnite fund.

News coverage on our researchers

Learn more about our program to seed up-and-coming researchers