Cech Steps Down At HHMI | Chemical & Engineering News
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Web Date: April 4, 2008

Cech Steps Down At HHMI

Chemist-president of prestigious biomedical institute will leave in spring 2009, return to teaching and research
Department: Government & Policy
Credit: Paul Fetters for HHMI
Credit: Paul Fetters for HHMI

Biochemist Thomas R. Cech announced on April 1 that he will step down as president of Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) in spring 2009. A nationwide search for his successor is expected.

Cech has been president of HHMI since January 2000. During his tenure, HHMI has launched several new initiatives, including the HHMI Professors program, which provides grants to research professors for the purpose of transforming undergraduate education; the Janelia Farm Research Campus in Ashburn, Va.; and the recently announced competition for early-career scientists (C&EN, March 17, page 8).

"A lot of the things I hoped to accomplish are well on their way, if not done," Cech says. "The next big thing that the Howard Hughes Medical Institute engages in deserves to have somebody who's going to see it through. Some of these projects are five to 10 years in length, and I had never planned to stay here that long. This seems like an appropriate time for me to return to being engaged directly with research and with teaching."

Cech plans to return to research and teaching at the University of Colorado, Boulder, where he has been a chemistry professor since 1978. During his time at HHMI, he has maintained a small research group studying telomeres (the DNA sequences that cap chromosomes) and telomerase (the enzyme that synthesizes telomeres).

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