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Gift of $32.5M Launches Cell Observatory at Broad

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The Broad Institute will use a new $32.5 million award to launch a collaborative lab that will focus on studies of the functioning of cell circuits in different types of cells and how they function in health and disease.

The donation from the Klarman Family Foundation will create the Klarman Cell Observatory, which will engage in experimental and computational research efforts and will partner with other Broad Institute scientists on collaborative projects.

"Creating a complete catalog of cell circuitry will ultimately have a huge impact on our ability to understand and treat disease," Broad Institute Director Eric Lander said in a statement on Wednesday.

"The Cell Observatory has the potential to foster insights into so many different aspects of health and disease, including the biological basis for behavioral health," Klarman Family Foundation President Beth Klarman said.

While much knowledge about cell circuits has come from studies of single-celled organisms, research into more complex organisms such as humans and other mammals has been lacking, due in part to the complexity of their circuits.

Aviv Regev, a Broad core member and associate professor at MIT who will head the Cell Observatory, has worked with her lab in recent years to develop new ways to decipher cellular circuitry, in particular by focusing on dendritic cells and stem cells that give rise to blood cells.

"Our work has shown that you can choose one cell type and very systematically — one layer at a time — decipher its circuits," Regev said.

She added that the funding will enable her lab to advance their research through the proof-of-concept phase.

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