Dr. Ronald A. DePinho of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute has been selected to become the next president of the renowned MD Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas in Houston.
DePinho is now director of the Belfer Institute for Applied Cancer Science at Dana-Farber and a professor of medicine and genetics at Harvard Medical School. He studies the molecular and biological processes behind the development of cancer, aging, and degenerative diseases.
DePinho would replace longtime director Dr. John Mendelsohn, who announced in December his plan to step down and return to a research role at the prestigious cancer center. Under Texas law, DePinho will be listed as "sole finalist" for 21 days before a formal appointment may be made.
DePinho declined to talk with me this evening after the University of Texas board announced his selection.
I'm not sure if DePinho listed his recent appearance on the Colbert Report on his CV, but it couldn't have hurt. He is better known for work looking at how genes control cancer and for reversing aging in mice. (Read his take on why we age and how you can avoid it here.)
According to a university press release, DePinho's wife, Dr. Lynda Chin, also will join the faculty of MD Anderson. Chin is the scientific director of the Belfer Institute and professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School.
The couple were founders of Aveo Pharmaceutical, Inc., a publicly traded Cambridge company. Aveo reported first-quarter revenues of $133.6 million, more than 10 times what it earned in the first quarter of 2010. The increase was largely the result of collaboration with another company in the development of a drug used to stop the growth of cancer cells, according to company filings.
DePinho is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies and fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He received a bachelor's degree in biological sciences from Fordham College and a medical degree from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
Dana-Farber will begin a search for DePinho's replacement soon. Dr. Edward J. Benz, the center's president, had this to say by email:
Ron DePinho is one of the most distinguished cancer scientists in the world. He is a visionary and an innovator, who will bring creative and critical energy to this vital role in the field of cancer. He is scientifically inquisitive, and he seeks novel approaches to problems and challenges. He also is extremely adept at bringing together academia and industry with the goal to expedite the pace of scientific discovery and drug development. MD Anderson also will benefit greatly with the recruitment of Lynda Chin, Ron's wife. She is an outstanding thought leader in the field of cancer genomics and cancer biology. She has ably filled a significant leadership role in the national Cancer Genome Anatomy Project. Dana-Farber will miss both of their scientific excellence, vision, and contributions to our research efforts.
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