Eric Steven Lander life and biography

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Eric Steven Lander biography

Date of birth : 1957-02-03
Date of death : -
Birthplace : Brooklyn, NY, United States
Nationality : American
Category : Politics
Last modified : 2010-06-25
Credited as : Professor of biology at MIT, Co-chair of Council of Advisers on Science and Technology, Obama administration

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Eric Steven Lander (born February 3, 1957 in Brooklyn, NY, United States) is a Professor of Biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), a member of the Whitehead Institute, and director of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard who has devoted his career toward realizing the promise of the human genome for medicine. He is co-chair of U.S. President Barack Obama's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

He was captain of the math team at Stuyvesant High School, graduating in 1974 and then attended Princeton University, where he graduated in 1978 as valedictorian. At the age of seventeen, he wrote a paper on quasiperfect numbers for which he won the Westinghouse Prize. He wrote his doctorate on symmetric designs at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, under the supervision of Peter Cameron. As a mathematician he studied combinatorics and applications of representation theory to coding theory. He enjoyed mathematics but did not wish to spend his life in such a "monastic career." Unsure of what to do next, he took up a job teaching managerial economics at Harvard Business School; he also began to write a book on information theory. At the suggestion of his brother, Arthur Lander, he started to look at neurobiology "because there's a lot of information in the brain." In order to understand mathematical neurobiology, he felt he had to study cellular neurobiology; this in turn led to studying microbiology and continued down to the level of genetics. "When I finally feel I have learned genetics, I should get back to these other problems. But I'm still trying to get the genetics right".

His studies introduced him to David Botstein, a geneticist working at MIT. Botstein was working on a way to unravel how subtle differences in complex genetic systems can become disorders like cancer, diabetes, schizophrenia, and even obesity. Lander then joined Whitehead Institute (1986) and later joined MIT as a geneticist. In 1987, he was given the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship. In 1990 he founded the WICGR (Whitehead Institute/MIT Center for Genome Research). WICGR became one of the world's leading centers of genome research, and under Dr. Lander's leadership, it has made great progress in developing new methods of analysing mammalian genomes. The Whitehead Institute has also made important breakthroughs in applying this information to the study of human variation and particularly the study of medical genetics. The WICGR formed the basis for the foundation of the Broad Institute, a transformation in which Dr. Lander was instrumental.

In December 2008, he was named, along with Harold E. Varmus, one of the co-chairs of the Council of Advisors on Science and Technology in the Obama administration.


Education: BA, Princeton U., 1978; DPhil, Oxford U., Eng., 1981. Avocations/Research/Interests: Achievements include founding the center which is the leading contributor to the Human Genome Project E-mail: Memberships: Fellow AAAS; NAS (math. and molecular biology com. 1989-90), Human Genome Orgn., Genetics Soc. Am., Am. Soc. Human Genetics, Math. Assn. Am., Am. Acad. Forensic Sci., Am. Assn. Cancer Rsch., Inst. Medicine. Addresses: Address, MIT, 77 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA, 02139-4307; Office, Whitehead Inst/MIT, 9 Cambridge Center, Cambridge, MA, 02142-1479.


Recipient Beckman prize for lab automation, Chiron prize in biotechnology, Woodrow Wilson prize for pub. svc., Princeton U., Dickson prize in cancer, Rhodes prize in cancer, Gairdner Found. Internat. award, 2002, Pub. Understanding of Sci. and Tech. award, AAAS, 2004; named Millennium Lectr., The White House, 1999, Scientist of Year, Nat. Disease Rsch. Interchange, 2003, R&D Mag., 2003; fellow MacArthur fellow, 1987; scholar Rhodes scholar, 1978.


Positions Held: founding dir., Broad Inst., MIT, Cambridge, 1990; founder, dir. Whitehead Ctr. Genome Rsch., MIT, Cambridge, 1990; mem. Whitehead Inst. Biomed. Rsch., MIT, Cambridge, 1989; prof. dept. biology, MIT, Cambridge, 1993; assoc. prof., MIT, Cambridge, 1989-93; vis. scientist, MIT, Cambridge, 1984-89; Whitehead fellow, MIT, Cambridge, 1986; assoc. prof., Harvard U., 1987-90; asst. prof. Grad. Sch. Bus., Harvard U., 1981-86. Career-Related: med. geneticist Mass. Genl. Hosp., Boston, 1993; Ralph R. Braund disting. vis. prod. U. Tenn., 1994; mem. U.S. Presdl. Commn. Nat. Medal Sci., 1995-97; mem. genetics working group NIMH, 1997; Christian A. Herter disting. lectr. NYU, 1993; Gladstone disting. lectr. Gladstone Inst., 1994; Herbert Boyer lectr. genetics U. Calif., San Francisco, 1995; co-chair sci. adv. group, Presdl. Coun. of Advisers on Sci. and Tech. 2009.

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