Program in Cellular and Molecular Medicine (PCMM)

The Program in Cellular and Molecular Medicine (PCMM), previously known as the Immune Disease Institute (IDI), is a research program at Boston Children's Hospital (BCH) recognized worldwide for its discoveries that increase the body's ability to fight disease and to heal.

The breakthroughs of PCMM scientists are greatly increasing our understanding of the influence of immune defense and inflammation on medical discovery, healthcare, and disease management.

PCMM officially joined seven other interdisciplinary programs at Boston Children's Hospital in October 2012 with the goal of increasing collaborations and scientific synergies.

Our investigators are academically affiliated with Harvard Medical School.

Featured News Stories

Fred Alt Received AAI-BioLegend Herzenberg Award




Congratulations to Dr. Frederick W. Alt for receiving the BioLegend Herzenberg Award from the American Association for Immunologists (AAI).  Established to honor the memory of AAI member Leonard A. Herzenberg Ph.D., this award recognizes investigator who has made outstanding  for outstanding contributions to the field of Immunology in the area of B cell biology. This award is generously supported by BioLegend






GokulCongratulations to Srigokul Upadhyayula!

Gokul Upadhyayula, who was an Instructor in Tom Kirchhausen’s research group, was recently promoted to Assistant Professor of Pediatrics. We want to extend our warmest congratulations on his new appointment.




Getting a grip on genetic loops


A new discovery about the spatial orientation and physical interactions of our genes provides a promising step forward in our ability to design custom antibodies. This, in turn, could revolutionize the fields of vaccine development and infection control. Recent work by Frederick Alt’s group published in Cell offers major new insights into the epigenetic functions of loop extrusions. Alt and his team believe that environmental or genetic factors that trigger variations in the formation of chromatin loops could contribute to diverse diseases. Understanding the mechanisms of loop extrusion could therefore lead to the development of new classes of therapeutics.

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July 19, 2017

Gene Silencer: Scientists identify new epigenetic mechanism that switches off placental genes in mice

By Greta Friar, Harvard Medical School

A biological process known as genomic imprinting helps control early mammalian development by turning genes on and off as the embryo and placenta grow. Errors in genomic imprinting can cause severe disorders and profound developmental defects that lead to lifelong health problems, yet the mechanisms behind these critical gene-regulating processes—and the glitches that cause them to go awry—are not well understood. Now, scientists at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital have identified a mechanism that regulates the imprinting of multiple genes, including some of those critical to placental growth during early embryonic development in mice.

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 June 14, 2017 

A surprising new link between inflammation and mental illness — and a potential drug to protect the brain

By Kat J. McAlpine, Boston Children’s Communications

Up to 75 percent of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus — an incurable autoimmune disease commonly known as lupus —  experience neuropsychiatric symptoms.  But so far, our understanding of the mechanisms underlying lupus’ effects on the brain has remained murky. Now, new research from Boston Children’s Hospital has shed light on the mystery and points to a potential new drug for protecting the brain from the neuropsychiatric effects of lupus and other central nervous system (CNS) diseases. The team has published its surprising findings in Nature.

“In general, lupus patients commonly have a broad range of neuropsychiatric symptoms, including anxiety, depression, headaches, seizures, even psychosis,” says Allison Bialas, PhD, first author on the study and a research fellow working in the lab of Michael Carroll, PhD, senior author on the study, who are part of the Boston Children’s Program in Cellular and Molecular Medicine. “But their cause has not been clear — for a long time it wasn’t even appreciated that these were symptoms of the disease. 

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March 22, 2017

Dr. Xuetao Cao delivered the 2017 Edwin J. Cohn Lecture


On Friday, March 17th, Dr. Xuetao Cao delivered the 2017 Edwin J. Cohn lecture. Dr. Cao's lecture, titled "Innate Immune Molecules in Inflammation and Cancer", was held in the Armenise Amphitheater at 210 Longwood Avenue

Xuetao Cao, M.D., Ph.D. is the President of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, a Professor of Immunology at Peking Union Medical College in Beijing, and a Director at the National Key Laboratory of Medical Immunology in Shanghai. He has won many awards in recognition of his scientific achievements and dedication to public service, as well as his contributions to medical research and education, including 2015 Nature Award for Mentoring in Science. Dr. Cao is widely recognized as a leader in promoting innovative and cross-disciplinary research. 

The Edwin J. Cohn Fund was established in 1990, by Alan Latham Jr., in recognition of Dr. Cohn's pioneering work in the fractionation of blood. PCMM and Boston Children's Hospital are proud to use this fund to sponsor a distinguished lectureship, the Cohn Lectureship.

If you were unable to attend, or would like to hear Dr. Cao's lecture again, you may view a recording of the 2017 Edwin J. Cohn lecture HERE.