Feature Story

Healing without scars

November 7, 2018

George Murphy wants to use stem cells to replace scarring with regenerative healing.

  • George Murphy’s goal is to coax skin stem cells into healing wounds by regenerating tissue instead of forming a scar.
  • To figure out how to do it, he is studying scarless healing during fetal development and “stem cell burnout” during aging.
  • Insights into scarless healing will help research into regenerating other vital organs, including the heart.

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Can we restore sight?

November 7, 2018

Markus Frank and his colleagues are reprogramming skin cells with the goal of giving people back their sight.

  • Seed funding from HSCI led Markus Frank and his colleagues to discover that the cell surface molecule ABCB5 can be used to identify limbal stem cells, which regenerate the cornea.
  • The team is developing ABCB5-positive cell therapy as a treatment for vision loss due to limbal stem cell deficiency.

Markus Frank, M.D., co-leader of the HSCI Skin Program, is reprogramming stem cells from the skin...

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Reinventing painkillers

November 5, 2018

Clifford Woolf wants to reboot drug discovery to find a new way to treat pain: effectively and responsibly.

  • Woolf’s goal is to stop the opioid crisis by rejecting the conventional approach to drug discovery and developing painkillers that do not harm people or communities. 
  • He is using stem cells to create models of pain, outside the body and in a dish, that can be used to screen for drugs swiftly and on a large scale.
  • The new approach requires ‘all hands’: expertise, equipment, and collaboration in stem...
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Assassinating cancer

November 1, 2018

Mario Suva and Ramesh Shivdasani are tackling some of the toughest, meanest cancers to clear a path to better treatments.

  • Suva and Shivdasani are using every approach in their arsenal to figure out what makes cancer cells arise from healthy tissue.
  • Armed with enough new knowledge about how cancer arises, they want to take truer aim at cancer cells, the cancer cell lineage, and factors that make cells go awry.
  • Their new approach to cancer management would combine gene and cell therapies to kill the cancer...
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Cell therapy for all

November 1, 2018

Chad Cowan is on a quest for the universal donor, which would make cell therapy available to populations – not just individuals.

  • Harvard scientist Chad Cowan aims to make off-the-shelf cellular products, and democratize access to new medicines.
  • His lab is working to make cellular therapies that can work for anyone, not just a single patient. 
  • Their ambitious goal is to modify therapeutic cells that can be transplanted into many people, without being rejected.

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One good drug

November 1, 2018

HSCI physician-scientists Daniel Tenen and Li Chai want to turn off a gene to stop cancer without poisoning the patient.

  • The ideal cancer drug would harm cancer cells without hurting normal cells.
  • In their quest to discover one good therapy, HSCI scientists Dan Tenen and Li Chai have zeroed in on SALL4, a gene that is essential for growth in both embryos and cancers.
  • A cellular therapy that deprives cancer cells of SALL4 would stop a third of cancers in their tracks.

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Building community, one neighborhood at a time

August 15, 2017

In spring, 2017, Khalid Shah and Tracy Young-Pearse were settled in their new research home in Brigham and Women’s ‘Building for Transformative Medicine’ on Fenwood Road. Like good neighbors, they were very eager to get to know their HSCI colleagues in the Longwood area. With the HIP interns about to arrive, they figured, why not build a community around these new arrivals to our research family?

Khalid and Tracy thus organized three meetings over the summer of 2017 bringing together HSCI PIs in the Longwood area along with their HIP interns. The PIs came to know each other...

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