Seeding the next generation of biomedical visionaries. 
Whether it's bringing single-cell technologies to tackle HIV or launching a breast cancer research initiative, BroadIgnite supports the ideas that lead to biomedical breakthroughs.
New Award Recipients
Anne Carpenter: Developing Therapeutics for Psychiatric Disorders

Collaborating with McLean Hospital, Anne, an institute scientist at the Broad, will study skin cells from patients with four different psychiatric disorders: schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder, and major depression. Anne’s lab will use their pathbreaking CellProfiler software to learn how the cells of patients differ from those of unaffected individuals—and how the cells differ among the four patient groups. This study could lead to the development of new therapeutics, which are desperately needed, as drug makers could test potential therapies on cell lines derived from patient skin cells—well before clinical trials.
Aleks Goeva: Machine-Learning Models for Understanding the Brain 

Single-cell technologies and 3D models are transforming our understanding of the human brain. But they’re generating unprecedented amounts of data that labs are currently ill-equipped to handle. For her project, Aleks, a statistician who is a postdoctoral fellow at the Broad, is experimenting with a novel data-analysis method to tackle this growing mountain of data. Borrowing from the world of pure mathematics, it uses machine learning to discover new, biologically significant representations of large, complex brain cell data. If successful, it could become the basis of a software tool that labs worldwide can use to gain insights into the roles brain cells play in mystifying disorders like schizophrenia, autism, and Alzheimer’s.  
Rajat Gupta: Reducing the Risk of Sudden Heart Attack        

Every year, 350,000 people in the U.S. die of sudden cardiac death. Though we have begun to develop tests assessing genetic predictors, we still don’t know a lot about a crucial factor: heart cells. Specifically, what are the heart cells that cause sudden cardiac death, and how do they differ from healthy cells? With BroadIgnite funding, Rajat, an instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and a cardiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital will investigate these questions. Working with clinical partners, he will obtain heart tissue from five patients with coronary blockages. He and his team will perform single-cell analyses on the plaque, looking for clues to how the cells change in the process of plaque buildup. This knowledge could prove to be a crucial complement to genetic data in diagnosing people at the highest risk.
Project Updates
Alex Bloemendal

A mathematician by training, Alex, a senior computational scientist and institute scientist at the Broad, used his 2016 BroadIgnite award to develop new methods for crunching high-dimensional genetic data, with the aim of increasing our power to mine that data for disease-causing genetic mutations. He now leads a group of postdocs and computational biologists making great progress on several exciting projects in this area. Among other efforts, they are building a repository comprising genetic data from more than 600,000 healthy individuals, aggregated across different genotyping technologies and including growing numbers of samples from non-European backgrounds—a critical step towards capturing the world’s diverse populations. The group is now harmonizing the data in a way that will allow scientists worldwide to scan the repository and conduct comparative analyses with groups of cases from patient genetic data, thereby accelerating the process of pinpointing genes that play key roles in disease.
Andrés Colubri

During the recent outbreak of Lassa fever in Nigeria, Andrés, a 2018 awardee, observed that doctors faced a key challenge: How could they rapidly share patient data—a necessity for controlling outbreaks quickly—without endangering patient privacy? With BroadIgnite funding, Andrés is developing algorithms that anonymize data enough to protect patients, while still ensuring that the data can yield key insights. Andrés and his colleagues have published a paper in The Lancet Infectious Diseases describing their study of Lassa fever patients in Nigeria at the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital (ISTH). And on his blog , Andrés explains how his experiences are informing his efforts to develop this technology. 
BroadIgnite Science Fair Video
BroadIgnite’s Annual Science Fair event took place at the Broad Institute on June 14. Attendees gained access to an interactive exhibit of the breakthrough projects catalyzed by the BroadIgnite community, followed by a modified Shark Tank program, where nominees vying for future funding pitched their projects while taking questions from the audience. Here are some photos from this fabulous evening!
BroadIgnite Awardees in the Media
Two BroadIgnite awardees are at the forefront of future precision medicine technologies. 2017 awardee and cardiologist, Amit Khera, was the lead author on a paper in Nature Genetics that shows it is possible to calculate “polygenic risk scores”—based on millions of genetic variants—that can help identify individuals at increased risk for common diseases. Amit and his team, which included 2018 awardee Steven Lubitz , used this approach to develop risk scores for heart disease, diabetes, breast cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, and atrial fibrillation. The New York Times featured their work in a recent sto ry
Abby Kussell Hopper