HHMI picks new president

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute has chosen a University of California, Berkeley, biochemist and stem cell researcher to serve as its next president. linkurl:Robert Tjian,;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54516/ an HHMI investigator since 1987, will replace outgoing president, Thomas Cech, on April 1, 2009, when Cech linkurl:leaves;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/16016/ his post. HHMI sent an E-mail to its investigators earlier today announcing the decision. "

By | September 29, 2008

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute has chosen a University of California, Berkeley, biochemist and stem cell researcher to serve as its next president. linkurl:Robert Tjian,;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54516/ an HHMI investigator since 1987, will replace outgoing president, Thomas Cech, on April 1, 2009, when Cech linkurl:leaves;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/16016/ his post. HHMI sent an E-mail to its investigators earlier today announcing the decision. "Bob Tjian is a distinguished and productive scientist who is also a committed teacher and mentor of young scientists," the E-mail read. "He is known as a person of impeccable taste in science who commands a great breadth of understanding across the life sciences." Tjian and his collaborators at UC Berkeley study chromatin regulation and the biochemical mechanisms for turning genes on and off, and over the past 20 years have isolated and characterized more than 100 essential drosophila and human gene transcription factors. Tjian was linkurl:one of the 100 most cited scientists in the 1980s,;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/10121/ and is linkurl:rated;http://hcr3.isiknowledge.com/author.cgi?&link1=Search&link2=Search%20Results&AuthLastName=tjian&AuthFirstName=&AuthMiddleName=&AuthMailnstName=&CountryID=-1&DisciplineID=0&id=598 as a "highly cited" researcher by Thomson ISI. Recently, Tjian has turned his attention to studying the mechanisms whereby stem cells differentiate, and his lab has focused, in part, on developing techniques to identify transcriptional regulators that direct gene expression in differentiated cells, such as muscle, neurons and ovarian follicle cells. linkurl:Eva Nogales,;http://cryoem.berkeley.edu/people.shtml a UC Berkeley structural biologist and colleague of Tjian's, said that she was pleasantly surprised by the announcement. "First [my reaction] was 'Wow,' because I had no idea he was being considered," she said. "He's a man with great vision, and I think he'll bean excellent person to continue the efforts of Tom Cech." Another of Tjian's collaborators, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute researcher linkurl:Ronald DePinho,;http://physicians.dana-farber.org/directory/profile.asp?dbase=main&setsize=10&display=Y&nxtfmt=r&gs=r&picture_id=0000067&lookup=Y&pict_id=0000067 agreed. "The scientific community is extremely fortunate to have someone of his extraordinary scholarship, vision and judgment in this important leadership position," he wrote in an E-mail to __The Scientist__. "The HHMI is a national treasure, and so is Tjian." Tjian could not be reached for comment by press time for this story.

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