Dr. Eric Lander is founding director of the Broad Institute. As one of the principal leaders of the Human Genome Project, Lander and colleagues are using these findings to explore the molecular mechanisms underlying the basis of human disease. Lander is also professor of biology at MIT, professor of systems biology at Harvard Medical School and member of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. He founded the Whitehead Institute/MIT Center for Genome Research in 1990. This Center became part of the newly founded Broad Institute in 2003. Over the past 15 years, Lander and colleagues have developed many of the key tools and generated many of the key information resources of modern mammalian genomics. They have also applied these tools and data to pioneer new ways to understand the basis of disease. Their work includes: mapping and sequencing of the human, mouse and other genomes; understanding the functional elements encoded in genomes through comparative analysis; understanding the genetic variation in the human population and its relationship to disease susceptibility; understanding the distinctive cellular signatures of diseases and of response to drugs; and understanding the mutations underlying cancer. They have also developed new analytical and laboratory techniques for genomics, which have been applied to a wide range of common diseases, including cancer, diabetes, inflammatory diseases and many other genetic illnesses. Lander’s honors and awards include the MacArthur Foundation Prize Fellowship in 1987, the Woodrow Wilson Prize for Public Service from Princeton University in 1998, the City of Medicine Award in 2001, the Gairdner Foundation International Award of Canada in 2002, and the AAAS Award for Public Understanding of Science and Technology in 2004. He was elected a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in 1997 and the U.S. Institute of Medicine in 1999. He has served on governing and advisory boards for various government agencies, academic institutions, scientific societies and corporations. Lander earned his B.A. in mathematics from Princeton University in 1978 and Ph.D. in mathematics from Oxford University in 1981 as a Rhodes Scholar. He was an assistant and associate professor of managerial economics at the Harvard Business School from 1981-1990.
In addition to his research, Lander is an enthusiastic teacher. He has taught MIT’s core introductory biology course for a decade and, in 1992, won the Baker Memorial Award for Undergraduate Teaching at MIT. He has lectured to both scientific and lay audiences about the medical and social implications of genetics, and delivered a special Millennium Lecture at the White House in 2000.