Seeding the next generation of biomedical visionaries. 

Whether it's bringing single-cell technologies to tackle HIV in Africa or launching a national breast cancer research initiative, BroadIgnite supports the ideas that lead to biomedical breakthroughs.
RSVP to Summer Science Fair
Please join us at BroadIgnite's Summer Science Fair! The event is an interactive exhibition of the most exciting research supported by the BroadIgnite community, coupled with a chance to play an active role in determining which project gets funded next. RSVP by emailing abbyhopp@broadinstitute.org.

When: Thursday, June 14, 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Where: Broad Institute, 415 Main St, Cambridge, MA  02138
New Award Recipients
Andres Colubri: Data Sciences and Infectious Disease

Lassa fever infects 300,000 people a year in West Africa, causing as many as 5,000 deaths. Working in Nigeria during a recent outbreak, Andres, a computational biologist, encountered a key challenge: Doctors needed to rapidly share patient data to facilitate real-time responses to the outbreak, but they often could not because of the need to protect patient privacy. With BroadIgnite funding, Andres will develop algorithms that anonymize data enough to protect patients, but still ensure it can yield key insights into a pathogen's spread. Ideally, the algorithms will become the basis of mobile-friendly software that accelerates outbreak response.

Beryl Cummings: Rare Disease Diagnosis

Beryl, a specialist in applying genomic technologies to rare diseases, wants to improve the speed and accuracy of their diagnoses, which can take years. Building on the work of BroadIgnite awardee Daniel MacArthur, she recently used a technology called RNA-sequencing, which analyzes genes expressed across tissues, to uncover a previously unknown mutation in a form of muscular dystrophy. Her work provided diagnoses for more than 45 patients and established RNA-sequencing as a diagnostic tool in cases where patient muscle tissue is available. Now, with BroadIgnite funds, Beryl will expand the technique and test if it can help diagnose patients whose tissue is not available.

Steve Lubitz: Machine Learning and Heart Disease   

Atrial fibrillation (AFib) affects more than 5 million people in the U.S. and, if left untreated, can triple the risk of stroke. AFib is also hard to diagnose: many patients may not know they have it because it only crops up episodically. Genetics can influence the risk of AFib, but we still don't exactly know how. Steve, a cardiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital who specializes in arrhythmias, will use his BroadIgnite award to investigate this challenge. Teaming up with the Broad's Data Sciences Platform, he will develop a machine-learning approach to track and analyze genomic data for AFib. The data, when coupled with other information from patients, could lead to insights about the factors that increase or decrease the likelihood of AFib and stroke, and identify patients at the highest risk for both. 

Project Updates
Evan Macosko

Evan, a 2017 awardee, played a lead role in developing Drop-Seq, a technique for simultaneously profiling thousands of individual cells by separating them into barcoded droplets. But the method only allowed researchers to capture RNA data in the cell. Evan's team wondered if they could build a system to gather data about DNA and proteins. Collaborating with the Broad's Fei Chen, Evan explored a technique using gel balls and new molecular biology to extract and sequence proteins, DNA, and RNA from single cells. The gels would stabilize molecules in the cell, allowing Evan's team to experiment with various methods of tagging the molecules and capturing data about them. So far, Evan and his team have managed to successfully encapsulate cells in gels while retaining their DNA, RNA, and protein. They are now unraveling the remaining major challenge: developing a robust system for tagging all these molecules in order to measure them together via DNA sequencing. Their big-picture aim is to provide detailed snapshots of how cells act differently in people with disease.

Amit Khera

Amit, a 2017 awardee, is working to identify rare genetic mutations associated with sudden cardiac death, which kills 325,000 adults in the U.S. every year. His hypothesis is that gene-sequencing techniques can help him zero in on the individuals who carry these mutations, making it more likely that they will receive early diagnoses and proper treatment. Through BroadIgnite support, he has already curated data from more than 400 individuals and confirmed that the mutations substantially increased their risk of death. His next step will be evaluating a multiethnic cohort of 5,000 individuals for the presence and impact of these mutations. This is a cohort whose medical data has been tracked for more than 20 years, meaning Amit's work could lead to new findings about the genetics of heart disease and long-term behaviors. His team's research about risk scores for sudden cardiac death was recently featured in the  MIT Technology Review.

BroadIgnite Podcast
Season 2, Episode 1: Mariella Filbin and Anna Greka

BroadIgnite awardees Mariella (2018) and Anna (2016) are not only scientists, they are also doctors with active practices: Mariella is a pediatric neuro-oncologist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Anna is an associate physician in the Renal Division in the Department of Medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital. In our latest podcast, the two physician-scientists discussed how their work with patients informs their research, and vice versa.

BroadIgnite Awardees in the Media

Ben Ebert

Ben received a  BroadIgnite grant in 2014 to create customizable mouse models  that simulate the genetics of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). He was recently named a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) investigator, one of 19 biomedical researchers nationwide (and one of four at the Broad) to receive the honor. 

Elinor Karlsson

Elinor, a 2017 BroadIgnite awardee, runs  Darwin's Dogs , a program that collects DNA by asking dog owners to send in a saliva sample, along with photos and answers to a questionnaire about the dog's behavior. So far, the program has registered more than 17,000 dogs and sequenced 400 of them. Now, Elinor's team has launched the  MuttMix  survey, a dog quiz that tests your ability to guess a dog's breed. Both the program and the survey were featured in  The New York Times

Eli Van Allen and Nick Wagle

Under the direction of Nick, a 2016 BroadIgnite awardee, the Broad launched the  Metastatic Breast Cancer Project, a groundbreaking initiative to recruit people across the country to participate in research by sharing their tissue samples and health information. More than 4,000 patients with MBC have registered since the program's inception in October 2015. The success of MBC led the Broad to establish other direct-to-patient initiatives, including the Metastatic Prostate Cancer Project, which is led by Eli, a 2015 awardee. Nick, Eli, and these programs were recently covered by the  Wall Street Journal.
 
Contact
Abby Kussell Hopper