HMS Initiative for RNA Medicine
The goal of the HMS Initiative for RNA Medicine is to make and translate RNA discoveries into novel therapeutics and diagnostics by fostering a climate of outstanding basic, translational and clinical research with world-leading scientists and clinicians.
Directed by Frank J. Slack, PhD, the HMS Initiative for RNA Medicine (HIRM) harnesses the potential of RNA to revolutionize the way cancer and other diseases are treated and diagnosed. Established in 2014 as the Institute for RNA Medicine under the leadership of BIDMC Cancer Center Director Pier Paolo Pandolfi, MD, PhD, the HIRM was designated a Harvard Medical School (HMS) Initiative in 2017 and brings together leading investigators in the field to pursue new lines of inquiry into non-coding RNA.
The Initiative is the home of the Non-Coding RNA Precision Diagnostics and Therapeutics Core Facility, a state-of-the-art pre-clinical facility at BIDMC and HMS that is dedicated to non-coding RNA. Its services include informatics, sequencing, imaging and delivery of therapeutics in vitro.
RNA, a nucleic acid transcribed from DNA, is involved with the coding, decoding, regulation, and expression of genes. Non-coding RNA molecules were long thought to be less integral to genetic expression but in fact contribute to biological processes that are still little understood. This highly promising area of research significantly expands the known boundaries of the human genome and offers scientists new avenues to understand the causes and treatment of disease.
Cancer takes numerous forms in many different tissues, but is ultimately driven by cells that grow out of control or fail to die. Non-coding RNAs are implicated in cell growth, division, survival and migration and have revealed themselves to be promising novel targets of anti-cancer therapies. As part of BIDMC’s Cancer Center, the HIRM’s mission to translate research breakthroughs on non-coding RNA into the clinical setting benefits from a large and varied patient population, the unique BIDMC “Mouse Hospital” modeling facility, and BIDMC’s streamlined co-clinical trial platform.
HIRM researchers’ work includes the study of blood cancers, prostate cancer, lung cancer, and breast cancer, and additional areas of emerging research will include Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and heart disease.