Search is on for genomics institute head
Princeton NJ -- The conclusion of Princeton's hunt for a new president marked the start of an important new search. One of President-elect Shirley Tilghman's first jobs will be to help find someone to succeed her as director of the new Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics.
"I want to plan a very effective transition, because that institute is in my heart," said Tilghman. "I have worked very hard to try and build it for the last two and a half years, and a high priority is to ensure that it has a great director moving forward."
The University founded the institute in 1998 as a unique scientific venture that will harness the strengths of many disciplines to tackle some of the most challenging problems in biology. Building on the flood of data from the human genome sequencing and other projects, institute scientists will try to reverse the conventional process in biological sciences of burrowing deeper and deeper into an isolated problem and, instead, will step back and attempt to integrate the avail-able data into broadly applicable principles.
The key to achieving that goal, said Tilghman, will be to bring together scientists from disparate areas that traditionally have not been seen as having a common scientific agenda. Computational and mathematical methods from physics and computer science, for example, could be valuable in making sense of large amounts of data.
In addition to defining the institute's scientific mission, its organization and initial faculty appointments, Tilghman was instrumental in raising funds to support the institute and in planning the construction of a building to house it. The building, which will be called the Carl Icahn Laboratory, is supported by a $20 million gift from Carl Icahn, while the operations, including the funding of a select group of exceptional postdoctoral scholars, is supported by a $35 million gift from Peter Lewis.
The Icahn lab, designed by architect Rafael Viñoly, is in the early stages of construction on the north edge of Pardee Field and is scheduled for completion in 2002. (See earlier story at: <www.princeton.edu/pr/pwb/01/0226/1b.shtml>.)
With these preparations completed, particularly the fund raising and building planning, Tilghman believes that prospective directors will see the job as a "very attractive position."
"It's a great opportunity to attract a scientific leader to Princeton," she said. "I am looking forward to it, and I know that we are going to get a stellar person."
At the same time, Tilghman is looking forward to seeing the scientific developments that emerge as others move the project forward.
"I think that the groundwork we've already laid
scientifically is making Princeton one of the most
interesting places in the country for computational
biology," she said. "That is a field that everybody believes
is going to explode in the next several years. We have in
place the groundwork to be a world leader in that