Research programs in the department focus on molecular mechanisms of adaptive responses to environmental signals to elucidate the mechanisms underlying the intricate interaction between genetic determinants and their divergent responses to stress signals. Alterations in these integrated adaptive mechanisms have a major impact on the health of human populations.

The research activities in the Department of Genetics and Complex Diseases and its pre and postdoctoral training programs concentrate on the molecular, cellular, and organismic adaptations and responses to nutrients, toxins, and radiation stress and explore the genetic basis controlling the heterogeneity of these interactions in experimental systems. The integrated interdisciplinary opportunities also aim to apply this knowledge to human populations to understand, prevent, and treat complex human diseases.

Faculty research is concentrated within several broad categories, including stress and inflammatory signaling pathways, nutrient sensing and molecular transport, oxidative stress, metabolic homeostasis, and the role of nuclear hormone receptors, cell growth and proliferation, and protein stability. The diseases under study include nutritional and metabolic diseases (obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases), cancer, and aging, both at the mechanistic level and in the context of population studies. As most of these health problems emerge as clusters, the research involves multidisciplinary collaborations with faculty members in other HSPH departments and Harvard-affiliated centers, as well as other institutions.

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