Molecular Biology Laboratories

History and Current Status

In 1981, Hoechst AG signed an agreement with the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) to create a new Department of Molecular Biology under the leadership of Professor Howard Goodman with the intent of “opening new avenues in the life sciences and providing a new knowledge base for the development of new products of benefit to mankind.” The support of the Harvard Medical School allowed Dr. Goodman to constitute his new department as an arm of the recently inaugurated Department of Genetics at HMS under Dr. Philip Leder. The Department of Molecular Biology (DMB) has thrived over the intervening years through the recruitment of a strong faculty. Each new faculty member has been appointed in Genetics as a result of a search conducted by Genetics faculty located at both MGH and the HMS quadrangle. In this manner, Drs. Fred Ausubel, Jack Szostak, Robert Kingston, Gary Ruvkun, Margie Oettinger, Josh Kaplan, Jeannie Lee, Jen Sheen, Michael Blower,  and David Altshuler have joined the faculty of Genetics and DMB. With the exception of Michael Blower, each of these faculty are now Professors of Genetics.

DMB occupies the sixth and seventh floors of the Simches Research Building on the main MGH Campus with over 40,000 net square feet with integration of its faculty within research groups in the new thematic centers at Simches. Drs. Hung, Szostak and Altshuler occupy space in MGH ‘thematic centers’ that are immediately adjacent to the core DMB space.

The 12 active laboratories in DMB currently have 112 research fellows and senior research fellows, 34 graduate students and 35 technicians, for a total of 181 researchers. Dr. Robert Kingston is now serving as Chief of the DMB, following the retirement of Dr. Goodman.

Relationship to the Department of Genetics

Members of the Department of Molecular Biology at MGH have benefited through strong ties with the quadrangle based faculty of the Department of Genetics. These ties have lead to important scientific interactions. For example, Drs. Kingston and Winston teach together and sit on the advisory committees fo reach other’s students, strengthening each research program on epigenetic mechanism. Drs. Ausubel and Church work together on regulatory circuits. Drs. Ruvkun and Tabin interact on developmental problems and Drs. Lee and Kuroda share interests in X inactivation. Drs. Altshuler and Hirschhorn have a long-standing collaborative effort on human genetics that has led to several joint publications. There are also important interactions concerning the graduate programs. Drs. Cepko, Tabin and Kingston have worked together on the BB program since its inception, with Cepko as the founding head of this graduate program. Courses too numerous to list have been taught jointly by Genetics faculty at DMB and the quadrangle. Drs. Ruvkun, Kaplan, Altshuler, Lee, Szostak and Kingston have all taught courses with quadrangle-based members of Genetics. These sustained strong ties have been essential in helping the Department of Molecular Biology recruit new faculty, in that a strong selling point is that members of DMB benefit from both the Hospital environment and from being an integral part of the Department of Genetics.

Research

The navigation bar on the left links to each of the laboratories in the Department of Molecular Biology. Click on the name of the Principal Investigator to go to his or her laboratory's section.