In the News


Molecular Biology at Massachusetts General Hospital

The Department of Molecular Biology at Massachusetts General Hospital is a part of both the research community of the hospital and the Division of Medical Sciences of the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Members of the Department carry out basic genetic and molecular biological research on a variety of topics at the cutting edge of the discipline. At present, approximately 170 people, including 13 faculty and over 85 postdoctoral fellows and graduate students comprise the Department of Molecular Biology. The Department is a major component of the Department of Genetics at Harvard Medical School. All Molecular Biology faculty, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students have concurrent appointments at Harvard, mostly in HMS Genetics.

Massachusetts General Hospital has a long-standing relationship with Harvard Medical School. MGH was the first teaching hospital associated with the medical school, and continues to play a major role in the clinical and research training of medical students, residents and fellows. The location of the Department of Molecular Biology at MGH reflects the belief that basic biological science and medical research will both benefit from close interaction.

A Tradition of Science

In 2011, Massachusetts General Hospital celebrated the 200th anniversary of its founding and association with Harvard Medical School as its first affiliated teaching and research hospital. The history of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School during the past two centuries has been one of continuous interaction; without basic medical research there would have been no new knowledge to improve the treatment of disease and care of patients. MGH, the first hospital established in New England, owes its recognition as one of the world's great medical centers in large part to its long-standing commitment to research in the basic sciences.

The history of basic research at MGH began on October 16, 1896, with the formal opening of the Pathology Laboratory, 50 years to the day after the first public demonstration of anesthesia in an MGH operating theatre, the now-famous Ether Dome. The times called for a new kind of scientist-doctor, someone who combined the practice of medicine with a sound knowledge of science and an instinct for experimentation.