Professor of Biology
Member, Whitehead Institute
Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
David Bartel received his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1993 and has since headed a lab at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, where he is also an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and a Professor of Biology at MIT. His lab initially studied the ability of RNA to catalyze reactions and more recently has been studying posttranscriptional gene regulation.
My lab is interested in the molecular pathways that regulate eukaryotic gene expression by affecting the stability or translation of messenger RNAs (mRNAs). We study microRNAs and other small RNAs that specify the destruction and/or translational repression of mRNAs. We are also increasingly interested in mRNA untranslated regions and poly(A) tails, and how these regions recruit and mediate regulatory phenomena. Our experimental approaches include 1) evolutionary and computational analyses, e.g., showing that most human genes are regulated by miRNAs, 2) high-throughput molecular measurements, e.g., showing that mammalian miRNAs predominantly act to destabilize their mRNA targets, 3) detailed biochemical analyses, e.g., revealing molecular mechanisms of RNA-silencing components, and 4) phenotypic analyses, e.g., revealing biological functions of particular miRNA:target interactions, including interactions important for preventing human cancers.