MIT biologist to lead research funding institute within NIH

Chris A. Kaiser, a cell biologist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will be the new director of a $2 billion research funding agency that is part of the National Institutes of Health.

Kaiser will head the National Institute of General Medical Sciences beginning in spring of 2012. The institute funds about 10 percent of grants given out by NIH — about 4,500 grants supporting research in areas including cell biology, genetics, developmental biology, and computational biology.

Kaiser’s research focuses on basic biology, including understanding how proteins are folded and transported within cells. He works with yeast, a simple organism that is often used to gain insights into biological processes and mechanisms that are shared by more complex animals.

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At MIT, he worked to increase the diversity of the graduate student population, increasing the number of minorities in the biology department from 5 percent to 18 percent over six years.

“Dr. Kaiser has tremendous energy and enthusiasm for research and training — two key components of the NIGMS mission — that make him ideal for this position,’’ Dr. Francis S. Collins, director of the NIH, said in a statement. “His scientific vision, leadership skills and collaborative spirit are essential assets that will help him guide the institute druing this era of great opportunity.’’

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