External Advisory Committee

Bruce Alberts, Ph.D.

Professor of Biophysics and Biochemistry
University of California, San Francisco
Dr. Alberts has returned to an academic position after serving several years as president of the National Academy of Sciences. Dr. Alberts is one of the original authors of The Molecular Biology of the Cell, the leading advanced textbook in this field, now in its fourth edition. His most recent text is Essential Cell Biology.

Richard Axel, M.D.

University Professor
Columbia University
Dr. Axel holds the titles of University Professor at Columbia University, Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics and of Pathology at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons, and Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Dr. Axel's primary research interest is how the brain interprets the sense of smell, specifically mapping the parts of the brain that are sensitive to specific olfactory receptors. He and Linda B. Buck, Ph.D. received the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine "for their discoveries of odorant receptors and the organization of the olfactory system."

Titia de Lange, Ph.D.

Leon Hess Professor
The Rockefeller University
Dr. de Lange is head of the Laboratory of Cell Biology and Genetics at The Rockefeller University in New York. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences. She seeks to understand how the human telomeric complex executes its two main functions: to protect chromosome ends and mediate their replication. She has been honored for her discoveries of proteins that bind these telomeres and has described the key components of the protein machinery that maintains the lengths of these chromosomal ends.

Tony Hunter, Ph.D.

Professor and Director
The Salk Institute
Tony Hunter, a professor in the Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory and director of the Salk Institute Cancer Center, studies how cells regulate their growth and division, and how mutations in genes that regulate growth lead to cancer. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences. His lab has made significant contributions in the area of signal transduction, how signals that stimulate or rein in growth are routed within a cell. His recent work has highlighted the importance of crosstalk and feedback loops in the PI-3 kinase-Akt-mTOR cell growth pathway, has elucidated mechanisms of activation of the ATM protein kinase in response to double strand DNA breaks, and has identified a role for the ERK MAP kinase pathway in the motility of early breast carcinoma cells.

Marc W. Kirschner, Ph.D.

Professor of Systems Biology
Harvard Medical School
Dr. Kirschner is the founding chair of the Department of Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School. Together with John Gerhart, Ph.D., he wrote the textbook Cells, Embryos, and Evolution, which draws on the advances made in molecular, cell, and developmental biology over the past 25 years. Dr. Kirschner is a member of the National Academy of Sciences. His laboratory investigates three broad, diverse areas: regulation of the cell cycle, the role of the cytoskeleton in cell morphogenesis, and mechanisms of establishing the basic vertebrate body plan.

Stuart H. Orkin, M.D.

David G. Nathan Professor of Pediatrics
Harvard Medical School
Dr. Orkin is the Chair of Pediatric Oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston and Investigator of the HHMI. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Orkin’s primary area of research is the molecular genetics of blood cell development and stem cells. Over the past decade, his laboratory has defined critical nuclear regulators of hematopoiesis.

Stanley Prusiner, M.D.

Professor of Biochemistry
University of California, San Francisco
A faculty member at the University of California, San Francisco, Dr. Prusiner won the 1997 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine "for his discovery of prions – a new biological principle of infection." Dr. Prusiner's work began with his search to find the cause of neurodegenerative diseases such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the human form of "mad cow disease." Since structural transition underlies both the replication of prions and the pathogenesis of CNS degeneration, much of Dr. Prusiner's research efforts seek to elucidate the molecular events responsible for this process.