Radhika Subramanian, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Department of Molecular Biology
Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard University
185 Cambridge Street
CPZN 7600
City, State, Zip
Boston, MA 02114
(617) 724-4062
Research Field
Biochemistry; Biophysics; Cell Biology
Award Year


Our goal is to elucidate how the primary cilium, a small solitary structure that extends from the surface of the cell as its "antenna," serves as a major signaling hub for mediating cell-to-cell communication. We will investigate this problem in the context of a developmental signaling pathway called Hedgehog, which plays an important role in human health. Improper Hedgehog signaling leads to birth defects, including skeletal malformations and abnormal development of the face and head, and is also associated with multiple tumors. Unlike many signaling pathways, which operate in the main body of the cell, components of the Hedgehog pathway are concentrated in the specialized environment of the cilium. Using an innovative combination of methods in biophysics and structural and cell biology, our goal is to reconstruct the key steps of this cilia-dependent developmental pathway from the individual components. We expect that these studies will uncover fundamental mechanisms that establish cilium architecture for signaling and determine how key players in the Hedgehog pathway are recruited to and operate within this specialized cellular compartment—work that could aid the development of therapeutic agents for birth defects or cancer.