Mapping molecular neighborhoods


At first glance, it seems counterintuitive. To learn more about how cells go awry causing disease, it seems logical to focus on the minutiae of a cell's molecular components: the specific genes, proteins, and small molecules that change over time leading to a disease state. Instead, Ernest Fraenkel, MIT associate professor in the Department of Biologic Engineering, first takes a macro view for finding new ways to understand and cure diseases. "When you are faced with making any sense of the 10,000 or 20,000 molecules that are present within a cell and evolve during disease, you need an entirely new approach to figure out what is really important among all the changes you see," Fraenkel explains. He develops computational and laboratory experimental methods to uncover the molecular pathways that go awry in disease and search for new strategies and intervention targets.