Rockefeller University Elects Marc Tessier-Lavigne 10th President

Released: 9-Sep-2010 8:00 AM EDT
Source Newsroom: Rockefeller University
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Newswise — The Rockefeller University announced today that its Board of Trustees has elected Marc Tessier-Lavigne, Ph.D., a leader in the study of brain development and currently Genentech executive vice president for research and chief scientific officer, as the 10th president of the university.

Russell L. Carson, chairman of Rockefeller University’s Board of Trustees, noted that Dr. Tessier-Lavigne, 50, was the Board’s unanimous first choice for the position, following an international search.

Mr. Carson said, “We were all impressed with Marc’s world class scientific achievements and reputation, his vision for the University and for science as a whole, his interpersonal skills and his executive management ability. We are confident he will be an outstanding president.”

Mr. Carson noted that Dr. Tessier-Lavigne’s own research “has involved groundbreaking discoveries in the field of neuroscience.” Dr. Tessier-Lavigne and his colleagues have identified mechanisms important for understanding how the human brain forms during normal development. Mr. Carson said that Dr. Tessier-Lavigne will transition his laboratory from Genentech to Rockefeller University to continue his primary research.

Dr. Tessier-Lavigne said, “I am looking forward with great enthusiasm to joining Rockefeller University, a unique institution with an unparalleled record of achievement in biomedical research, and to working with its remarkable community of scientists, research fellows, and graduate students.

“I have immensely enjoyed my seven years at Genentech and am proud of the work my outstanding colleagues and I have done. While it was a difficult decision to leave the company, I am honored and excited to lead one of the world’s premier academic scientific institutions and to help carry on its tradition of groundbreaking contributions to biology and medicine.”

Dr. Tessier-Lavigne will succeed Paul Nurse, Ph.D., who has served as Rockefeller University's president since 2003. Mr. Carson said that Dr. Nurse, who was recently elected president of The Royal Society in London, has graciously agreed to remain as president until Dr. Tessier-Lavigne assumes his position on March 1, 2011.

About Marc Tessier-Lavigne
Dr. Marc Tessier-Lavigne is Executive Vice President, Research, and Chief Scientific Officer at Genentech, a member of the Roche Group and one of the world’s leading biotech companies. He and his colleagues pioneered the identification of molecules that direct the formation of connections among nerve cells to establish neuronal circuits in the mammalian brain and spinal cord. This work has implications for neurological disorders that arise from miswiring of connections, and for repair and rewiring of connections following spinal cord injury and in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

As head of the Genentech Research organization, Dr. Tessier-Lavigne directs some 1,400 people in disease research and drug discovery in cancer, immune disorders, infectious diseases and neurodegenerative diseases. He is also a member of Genentech’s Extended Executive Committee and its Early Stage Portfolio Committee, which oversees all experimental medicines from the early development stage to the end of Phase II proof of concept studies in humans. In addition to his research management responsibilities, Dr. Tessier-Lavigne has maintained an active basic research laboratory focused on the mechanisms of brain development and repair.

Dr. Tessier-Lavigne was born in Trenton, Canada, and received a B.Sc. in Physics from McGill University, and a B.A. in Philosophy and Physiology from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. He obtained his Ph.D. in Physiology from University College London, and performed postdoctoral work at the MRC Developmental Neurobiology Unit in London and at Columbia University. From 1991 to 2001 he was on the faculty at the University of California, San Francisco, and from 2001 to 2003 he served as the Susan B. Ford Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences and Professor of Biological Sciences at Stanford University. He was also an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute from 1994 to 2003. He moved to Genentech to become Senior Vice President, Research Drug Discovery in 2003, and was promoted to his current position in 2009.

Dr. Tessier-Lavigne serves on the editorial boards of several scientific journals, including the Board of Reviewing Editors of Science magazine. He also serves on the scientific advisory boards of a number of research organizations and is a member of the Jury of the Lasker Medical Research Awards.

Dr. Tessier-Lavigne is the recipient or co-recipient of numerous scientific awards, including the Young Investigator Award of the Society for Neuroscience (USA), the Charles Judson Herrick Award of the American Association of Anatomists, the Ameritec Prize for contributions towards a cure for paralysis, the Fondation Ibsen Prize in Neuronal Plasticity, the Viktor Hamburger Award of the International Society for Developmental Neuroscience, the Wakeman Award for distinction in neuroscience research, the Robert Dow Neuroscience Award, an honorary doctorate from the University of Pavia, the Reeve-Irvine Research Medal, the Gill Distinguished Award in Neuroscience and the W. Alden Spencer Award.

Dr. Tessier-Lavigne has been elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences (USA), a fellow of the Royal Society (UK), a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences (UK). In 1999, he was named a Canadian “Leader for the 21st Century” by Time magazine Canada.


About Rockefeller University

Founded by John D. Rockefeller in 1901, The Rockefeller University was this nation’s first biomedical research institution. Hallmarks of the University include a research environment that provides scientists with the support they need to do imaginative science, a high quality research hospital, and a truly international graduate program that is unmatched for the freedom and resources it provides students to develop their capacities for innovative research.

Since the institution's founding, Rockefeller University has been the site of many important scientific breakthroughs. Rockefeller scientists, for example, established that DNA is the chemical basis of heredity, identified the weight-regulating hormone leptin, discovered blood groups, showed that viruses can cause cancer, founded the modern field of cell biology, worked out the structure of antibodies, devised the AIDS “cocktail” drug therapy, and developed methadone maintenance for people addicted to heroin.

Throughout Rockefeller’s history, 23 scientists associated with the University have received the Nobel Prize in physiology/medicine and chemistry, and 20 scientists associated with the University have been honored with the Albert Lasker Medical Research Award. Five Rockefeller University scientists have been named MacArthur Foundation Fellows, and 14 have garnered the National Medal of Science.

Currently, the University’s award-winning faculty includes six Nobel laureates, seven Lasker Award winners and three recipients of the National Medal of Science. Thirty-five of the faculty are elected members of the National Academy of Sciences.


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