Photos from the 2014 Whitehead Colloquium

On October 25, Whitehead Institute was delighted to host the 20th annual Whitehead Colloquium. This year’s event was an enormous success: more than 130 supporters and friends turned out to hear from Whitehead scientists and their collaborators, to learn the latest research news from Whitehead postdocs, to tour laboratories, and to enjoy cocktails with Whitehead Institute’s world-renowned researchers.

Whitehead Faculty Member Hazel Sive and her collaborator, autism expert, Cathy Lord, delivered the first presentation and discussion. Hazel described the transparent zebrafish as a model organism for studying and understanding brain disorders, while Cathy discussed her role in treating autism patients in the clinic.

Following their presentation, Gerry Fink and Peter Hecht described the founding of Ironwood Pharmaceuticals. Peter Hecht, a former postdoc in Gerry’s lab, was instrumental in developing technology at Whitehead that would serve as the foundation for Ironwood’s successful start in the biotech world.

After lunch, guests enjoyed presentations from several postdocs. Discussion topics—ranging from Alzheimer’s disease to autism, and from cancer to stem cells—highlighted the variety of individual projects these talented young scientists are pursuing.

Later in the afternoon, Director David Page and his collaborator Sherman Silber, one of the world’s leading experts on infertility, provided a dynamic and engaging discussion on the Y chromosome and male infertility. David Page continues to defend the honor of the Y chromosome, explaining its importance in evolutionary history and the promise it holds for better understanding gender-based disease susceptibility.

The daylong program concluded with a variety of laboratory tours, an update on Whitehead’s community outreach and education programs, and a lively cocktail reception set to a jazz trio.

The Whitehead Colloquium is held each fall at the Institute in Cambridge. If you missed this year’s event, but would like to learn more about other Whitehead events including next year’s Colloquium, we encourage you to contact Lauren Gilbert at (617) 258-5489 or lgilbert@wi.mit.edu for additional information.

Photo credits: Ceal Capistrano

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Whitehead Institute Director David Page welcomes guests in the morning with an overview of Whitehead’s research accomplishments, the impact Whitehead has had in the academic and industry communities, and he highlights the ways in which philanthropy plays an important role in ensuring the success of Whitehead Institute’s future.

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Liliana Bachrach, Chair of the Whitehead Board of Associates (BOA), recounts her personal story with Whitehead Institute and how she and her husband, Hillel Bachrach decided to become involved with the organization, ultimately providing the necessary funding to support the Liliana and Hillel Bachrach Stem Cell Bank at Whitehead Institute.

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Whitehead Institute Faculty Member Hazel Sive and her collaborator Cathy Lord engage in a dynamic discussion with attendees. Their individual efforts, Hazel in the lab and Cathy in the clinic, are aimed at a common purpose of better understanding and treating autism and related brain disorders.

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Whitehead Institute Founding Faculty Member Gerry Fink provides an overview of his research on yeast genetics and his role in the founding of Ironwood Pharmaceuticals.

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Whitehead Faculty Member Hidde Ploegh fields a question about the current Ebola epidemic and how his work with viruses helps to address treatments of similar communicable diseases.

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Peter Hecht, former Whitehead Postdoc and CEO of Ironwood Pharmaceuticals, discusses his experience in working with his mentor, Whitehead Faculty Member Gerry Fink, to leverage intellectual property developed at Whitehead Institute to form the now publicly traded Ironwood Pharmaceuticals.

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Senior Postdoctoral researcher, Julien Muffat, describes the novel methods he and his colleagues in the Jaenisch lab employ to understand brain disorders like ALD and Alzheimer’s.

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Brian Abraham, senior Postdoctoral researcher in the Young lab, describes the role of super-enhancers in gene control. Since defects in gene expression can cause diabetes, cancer and immune deficiencies, improved understanding of cell circuitry can lead to new insights into disease mechanisms and the development of new diagnostics and therapeutics.

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Senior Postdoctoral researcher in the Lindquist lab, Priyanka Narayan, describes her unique approach to studying Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease: using yeast as a model organism to create disease specific research platforms.

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Senior Postdoctoral researcher, Jasmine McCammon of the Sive lab, discusses her research focused on the genetics of autisum.

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Jordan Krall, senior Postdoctoral researcher in the Weinberg lab, describes the wound healing response that is thought to be compromised in cancer patients, possibly making individuals more susceptible to relapse after tumor removal.

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Whitehead Director David Page describes his work on the Y-chromsome, which he has spent his entire career trying to better understand and decipher.

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Sherman Silber, renowned infertility expert, shares insights on his work with male infertility and his multi-decade collaboration with David Page.

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Following the afternoon presentations, guests enjoyed cocktails and had the opportunity to connect and share what they had learned from the presentations.

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David Page and Sherman Silber catch up with Whitehead Institute Board Members Mark Lapman (left) and Jono Goldstein (right).

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Mary Woolley, President of Research!America, converses with Board of Associates Chair Lyerka Miller.

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Whitehead Board of Directors member Arthur Brill and Whitehead Board of Associates member Carol Tobin chat with David Page during the cocktail hour.

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Liliana and Hillel Bachrach share a moment with David Page. Liliana serves as the Whitehead Institute Board of Associates Chair and helped to initiate the Liliana and Hillel Bachrach Stem Cell Bank at Whitehead Institute.

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Paul and Andria Heafy pose with David Page. The Heafys generously fund one of the Whitehead Fellows positions.