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New Director For NIH Institute

Government: Cell biologist Chris A. Kaiser to lead National Institute of General Medical Sciences

by Britt E. Erickson
October 18, 2011

Credit: NIGMS
Kaiser will take the reins of NIGMS next year.
National Institute of General Medical Sciences director-designate, Chris A. Kaiser
Credit: NIGMS
Kaiser will take the reins of NIGMS next year.

NIH has selected cell biologist Chris A. Kaiser to direct the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS). Kaiser, a professor and head of the biology department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, plans to take the helm in the spring of 2012. He replaces acting director Judith H. Greenberg, who has been leading the institute since the departure of Jeremy M. Berg last July (C&EN, June 20, page 28).

The NIGMS director oversees a budget of about $2 billion. The institute supports about 10% of NIH-funded grants, or about 4,500 grants each year, and it funds more chemistry-related research than any of the other 27 NIH institutes and centers. NIGMS also supports research training and initiatives to increase workforce diversity. “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,” NIH director Francis S. Collins said in a statement.

Kaiser says he is looking forward to building and sustaining a strong and diverse scientific workforce at NIGMS. He led an effort at MIT that increased graduate student diversity in the biology department from 5% to 18% over six years. Kaiser joined MIT as a faculty member in 1991 and became chair of the biology department in 2004. He holds an A.B. degree in biochemistry from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in biology from MIT. His research involves the use of genetic, biochemical, and structural biology tools to unravel mechanisms of protein folding and intracellular transport.

The American Chemical Society, which publishes C&EN, is looking forward to working with Kaiser as the new NIGMS director, says Glenn Ruskin, director of the ACS Office of Public Affairs. “NIGMS invests $200 million annually in research grants to scientists in a range of chemical sciences and also has a significant focus on training future researchers. The NIGMS director is thus a leader in the chemical sciences community,” Ruskin says.



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