Biden Appeals to Eric Lander and Maria Zuber for Senior Scientific Positions | MIT News
President-elect Joseph Biden has selected two MIT professors – Broad Institute director Eric Lander and vice president of research Maria Zuber – for the top science and technology positions in his administration.
Lander has been appointed presidential science adviser, a post he will assume shortly after Biden’s inauguration on January 20. He was also appointed director of the Office for Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), a post that requires confirmation from the Senate.
Biden intends to elevate the presidential science adviser, for the first time in history, to a member of his cabinet.
Zuber has been appointed co-chair of the Council of Presidential Advisers for Science and Technology (PCAST), along with Frances Arnold, a chemical engineer from Caltech, the 2018 Nobel laureate in chemistry. Zuber and Arnold will be the first women to co-chair PCAST.
Lander, Zuber, Arnold and other appointees will join Biden in Wilmington, Delaware on Saturday afternoon, where the president-elect will introduce his team of top science and technology advisers, areas he has said are crucial to the future of America. Biden tasked this team with recommending strategies and actions to ensure the nation maximizes the benefits of science and technology for America’s well-being in the 21st century, including meeting health needs, change climate, national security and economic prosperity.
“From Covid-19 to climate change, from cybersecurity to America’s competitiveness in innovation, the nation faces pressing challenges whose solutions depend on a broad and deep understanding of the frontiers of science and of technology. In this context, it is extremely significant that science is elevated for the first time to Cabinet level, ”said MIT President L. Rafael Reif. “With his keen intelligence and his remarkable track record as a scientific pioneer, Eric Lander is an excellent choice for this new role. And given his leadership of extremely complex NASA missions and his deep commitment to the forefront of dozens of scientific fields. as MIT’s vice president of research, it’s hard to imagine anyone more qualified to co-chair PCAST than Maria Zuber.This is a great day for science and for the nation.
Lander will be taking a leave of absence from MIT, where he is a professor of biology, and the Broad Institute, which he has directed since its inception in 2004. The Broad Institute today announced that Todd Golub, currently its scientific director as well as a member of the corps Harvard Medical School professor and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute researcher, will succeed Lander as director.
Zuber, EA Griswold Professor of Geophysics in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at MIT, will continue to serve as the Institute’s Vice President for Research, a position she has held since 2013. .
Eric S. Lander, 63, has been the founding director of the Broad Institute at MIT and Harvard since 2004. Geneticist, molecular biologist and mathematician, he was one of the main leaders of the International Human Genome Project from 1990 to 2003, and is committed to attracting, teaching and mentoring a new generation of scientists to deliver on the promise of genomic knowledge. to benefit human health.
From 2009 to 2017, Lander informed federal science and technology policy as PCAST co-chair throughout President Barack Obama’s two terms.
“Our country is once again at an important time when it comes to science and technology, and how we respond to the challenges and opportunities ahead will shape our future for the rest of this century,” Lander said. . “President-elect Biden understands the central role of science and technology, and I am deeply honored to have been invited to serve.”
A mathematician by training, Lander received a BA in Mathematics from Princeton University in 1978. As a Rhodes Scholar from 1978 to 1981, he attended the University of Oxford, where he received his PhD in Mathematics. Lander was a faculty member at Harvard Business School from 1981 to 1990, teaching courses in managerial economics, decision analysis, and negotiation.
In 1983, his younger brother Arthur, a developmental neurobiologist, suggested that with his interest in coding theory, Lander might be interested in how biological systems, including the brain, encode and process information. . Lander began auditing classes at Harvard and working in the moonlight in labs around Harvard and MIT, learning molecular biology and genetics.
In 1986, he was appointed Whitehead Fellow of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, where he established his own laboratory. In 1990, Lander was appointed Full Professor in the Department of Biology at MIT and Fellow of the Whitehead Institute.
Lander’s honors and awards include the MacArthur Fellowship, the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, the Albany Prize in Medicine and Biological Research, the Gairdner Foundation International Award of Canada, and the Killian Faculty Achievement Award from MIT. He was elected a fellow of the United States National Academy of Sciences in 1997 and the United States Institute of Medicine in 1999.
Daughter of a Pennsylvania state soldier and granddaughter of coal miners, Maria T. Zuber, 62, has been a faculty member at MIT since 1995 and vice president of research at MIT since 2013. She has been a member since 2012 of the 24-member National Science Board (NSB), the governing body of the National Science Foundation, chaired the NSB from 2016 to 2019.
Zuber’s own research links planetary geophysics with the technology of space-based laser and radio systems. She was the first woman to lead a NASA space mission, as the principal investigator of the space agency’s Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission, an effort launched in 2008 to map the gravitational field of the moon in order to answer fundamental questions about the evolution of the moon and its internal composition. In total, Zuber has held senior positions associated with science experiments or instruments on nine NASA missions since 1990.
As MIT’s vice president of research, Zuber is responsible for research administration and policy. She oversees more than a dozen interdisciplinary research centers, including the David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, the Plasma Science and Fusion Center, the Research Laboratory of Electronics, the Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies, the MIT Energy Initiative ( MITEI) and the Haystack Observatory. She is also responsible for MIT’s research integrity and compliance and plays a central role in research relations with the federal government.
“Many of the most pressing challenges facing the nation and the world will require breakthroughs in science and technology,” Zuber said. “A critical part of any solution must be to restore confidence in science, and I am delighted to have the opportunity to work with President-elect Biden and his team to drive positive change.”
Zuber holds a BA in Astronomy and Geology from the University of Pennsylvania, awarded in 1980, and a ScM and PhD in Geophysics from Brown University, awarded in 1983 and 1986, respectively. She has received awards and honors including the MIT Killian Faculty Achievement Award; the American Geophysical Union Harry H. Hess Medal; and numerous NASA awards, including the Distinguished Public Service Medal and the Outstanding Public Leadership Medal. She was elected member of the National Academy of Sciences in 2004.
Todd Golub, 57, will become the next director of the Broad Institute. He joined Dana-Farber and Harvard Medical School in 1997, and is currently Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and Charles A. Dana Researcher in Human Cancer Genetics at Dana-Farber.
Golub headed the Whitehead Institute / MIT Center for Genome Research, the precursor to the Broad Institute. He was also a researcher at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and chaired many scientific advisory boards, including St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the National Cancer Institute Board of Scientific Advisors.
Golub is also an entrepreneur, having co-founded several biotechnology companies to develop diagnostic and therapeutic products. He created and applied genomic tools to understand the basis of the disease and to develop new approaches for drug discovery. He made fundamental discoveries on the molecular basis of human cancer and helped develop new approaches to precision medicine.
“Broad is in a stronger scientific and cultural position today than at any time in our 16-year history,” Golub says. “Plus, the pandemic has made us think differently about almost every aspect of how we collaborate and accomplish our scientific mission. We are well positioned to work with the wider scientific community to address some of the most pressing challenges in biomedicine: from the development of new diagnostics and therapies for infectious diseases and cancer, to understanding the genetic basis of cardiovascular disease. and mental. I am honored to serve as the director of this remarkable institution.
Members of the Broad Institute Board of Trustees thanked Lander for his long service and expressed optimism about Golub’s ability to build on this foundation.
“Todd’s in-depth knowledge of the Broad Institute community, its science, and its mission to promote understanding and treatment of disease makes him the perfect choice for the Institute’s next director,” said Louis Gerstner, Jr., chairman of the Broad Institute Board of Directors. “Todd is well positioned to advance the Institute and our key scientific collaborations, and the Board of Directors is very confident that he will continue Broad’s culture of innovation, collegiality and constant renewal.”
Shirley Tilghman, Board Member of Broad, Professor of Molecular Biology and Public Policy and President Emeritus of Princeton University, adds: “In 16 years, the Broad has grown into one of the most unique institutions in the world. the biomedical ecosystem. Under the leadership of Eric and Todd, he has developed powerful new methods and made many contributions to genomic medicine that will benefit human health.