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New Dean to Lead Weill Cornell Expansion of Medical Research


Dr. Laurie Glimcher to leverage Cornell's enormous strengths in life sciences, physical sciences and engineering

NEW YORK (Sept. 7, 2011) — Dr. Laurie Glimcher, one of the nation's leading physician-scientists and researchers, has been named the Cornell University provost for medical affairs and the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean at Weill Cornell Medical College in Manhattan, effective Jan. 1, 2012, Cornell President David Skorton announced today.

Skorton said that Glimcher is the ideal choice to lead Weill Cornell at a time of unprecedented growth as the medical school expands its biomedical research enterprise in New York City through the construction of a new research building that will double its existing research space. Weill Cornell has nearly completed a $1.3 billion capital campaign aimed at positioning the medical college at the vanguard of new medical research and discoveries.

Glimcher will succeed Dr. Antonio M. Gotto Jr., who has served as dean since 1997. Beginning in 2012, Gotto will become co-chairman of the board of overseers for the college and vice president of Cornell University.

Glimcher is the Irene Heinz Given Professor of Immunology at the Harvard School of Public Health, where she directs the Division of Biological Sciences program, and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, where she headed one of the top immunology programs in the world.

"I am honored and delighted that Dr. Glimcher has accepted the challenge of guiding our great institution," said Skorton, who also is a medical doctor. "Her passion for accomplishment and her many research and clinical strengths make her ideally suited to build on Tony Gotto's strong foundation and lead Weill Cornell's bright future in clinical care, education and translational research as well as participate at the highest level of Cornell University in fostering excellence in the life sciences."

Glimcher's pioneering research laboratory at Harvard is known for its many discoveries, ranging from the T-bet transcription factor, which regulates a variety of immune functions, to the Schnurri-3 adapter protein that controls adult bone mass. And her clinical expertise has helped position her as a leader in translational medicine, taking path-breaking discoveries from concept to clinic, often in partnership with the private sector.

Her service with the biopharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb, where she is the longest-standing member of the corporate board of directors and of its audit committee, has afforded her extensive experience in management oversight, corporate governance, corporate finance, accountability, leadership and the practical aspects of running a business and bringing therapeutics to the marketplace.

"This is great news for the medical school and for the city," said Sanford I. Weill, chairman of the medical college's board of overseers and a member of the board of trustees of Cornell University. "With her thorough appreciation of the management and financial challenges of complex organizations, I am confident she will lead the college with the same creativity and acumen she demonstrated when she pioneered the establishment of Bristol-Myers' science and technology committee, which is widely credited for transforming its stake in research. With a state-of-the-art biomedical research facility under construction and Dr. Glimcher at the helm, Weill Cornell and New York are on course to achieve a preeminence in the biomedical sciences that has already been achieved in clinical medicine and first-rate medical education."

Commenting on Glimcher's appointment as his successor, Gotto, provost for medical affairs and dean of the medical college, said, "I am delighted that Laurie Glimcher will be my successor to lead Weill Cornell Medical College. I have been blessed with 15 years of extraordinary support from the board, faculty, staff, students and university leadership. Together we have established a foundation of accomplishments and vibrant network of affiliations with Methodist Hospital in Houston and in Qatar and Tanzania internationally to sustain a promising vision. Laurie will bring standards of excellence that will be critical to Weill Cornell in the challenges ahead for academic medical centers."

"This is an outstanding opportunity," Glimcher said. "I am convinced that Weill Cornell Medical College is perfectly positioned, thanks to the great work of Tony Gotto, Sandy Weill and the board of overseers, to be a leader in academic medicine in this country. I have a clear vision for how that can happen, but I also am excited that the president of Cornell, David Skorton, who is a physician scientist, the board of overseers and the WCMC faculty will work with me to shape that vision. I also look forward to leveraging the enormous strengths in life sciences, the physical sciences and engineering at Cornell University's Ithaca campus to raise the bar even higher across the university."

"My leadership team and I at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital are highly supportive of the direction Weill Cornell is pursuing," said John J. Mack, the chair of the board of trustees of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. "We are excited by Dr. Laurie Glimcher's new appointment and we look forward to working closely with her."

Glimcher is board certified in internal medicine and rheumatology and is senior rheumatologist at the Brigham and Women's Hospital. She also is a board member of the Ragon Institute of MGH (Massachusetts General Hospital), MIT and Harvard, and an associate member of the Broad Institute.

Her appointment builds on Weill Cornell's existing partnerships with leading biotech and pharmaceutical companies and its commitment to being a leader in translational medicine and the development of path-breaking therapies to improve patients' lives.

"I believe that appropriate partnering with the private sector is essential for the future of translational research," said Glimcher, who also serves on the board of directors of the Waters Corporation and served in the same capacity at NDCHealth Corporation. "I also believe, with President Skorton, that a major strategic goal of ours will be to increase faculty excellence," added Glimcher. "And I share the belief that this is a central mission of the next dean."

"Dr. Glimcher has the scientific credibility and connections to attract a cadre of the most promising biomedical scientists to Weill Cornell and increase the recognition of the outstanding faculty already here," said Peter C. Meinig, chair of the Cornell University Board of Trustees, whose leadership unanimously endorsed Glimcher's appointment.

Glimcher's own research has been unusually interdisciplinary and has resulted in numerous patents to her credit. It has given her a very broad perspective on many different key areas of biomedical science at the medical college. She is an immunologist who has also studied cancer, metabolic disease, neurodegenerative disease and skeletal biology.

Commenting on the increasing collaboration between scientists on Cornell's Ithaca campus and medical researchers in New York City, which has benefitted substantially from Sanford Weill's generosity and thoughtful vision, Glimcher noted, "I am eager to work on these unique collaborations and on technology transfer. Having recently chaired Harvard's committee on inventions, patents and policy, I am delighted to hear that Cornell has launched more than 20 start-ups in the last two years. There will be a wealth of opportunities."

In 2014, Weill Cornell Medical College will open its new Medical Research Building, an 18-story, $650 million state-of-the-art facility that will more than double the medical school's existing research space.

Weill Cornell Medical College was named in 1998 in recognition of longtime benefactors Joan and Sanford I. Weill, who are also responsible for the establishment of the Weill Institute for Cell and Molecular Biology at Cornell University, a pivotal link in the growing collaboration between the university's two main campuses. Weill Cornell has built a strong international presence in places such as Qatar, Tanzania, Haiti, Brazil, Austria and Turkey, and with the establishment of Weill Cornell Medical College-Qatar, it is the first school in the United States to offer medical education and its M.D. degree overseas.

Background information about Dr. Laurie Glimcher

Glimcher is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the National Academy of Sciences USA, and a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. She also is a member and past president of the American Association of Immunologists, which awarded her the Huang Meritorious Career Award in 2006 and the Excellence in Mentoring Award in 2008. She also was elected to the American Society of Clinical Investigation, from which she received the Outstanding Investigator Award in 2001, and to the American Association of Physicians and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Glimcher's laboratory at Harvard uses biochemical and genetic approaches to elucidate the molecular pathways that regulate lymphocyte development and activation in the immune system. Cell-mediated immunity involves T helper lymphocyte responses that are critical for both the development of protective immunity and for the pathophysiologic immune responses underlying autoimmune, infectious, allergic and malignant diseases. Glimcher's laboratory has studied the regulatory pathways that control these important immune checkpoints by controlling the production of small hormone-like mediators called cytokines.

Her laboratory defined the genetic bases of cytokine expression in T helper lymphocytes. In 1996, she discovered that development of T cells that are important in allergy and asthma is regulated by the transcription factor c-maf. Several years later, in a landmark paper published in Cell, her laboratory identified another factor, T-bet, as the master regulator of T lymphocyte helper cells that are vital for fighting off pathogens and cancer. This paper has gone on to be cited over 1,100 times in the literature and has revolutionized the understanding of immunological lineage commitment. In a ground-breaking paper published in Nature, her laboratory also identified XBP1, the first transcription factor known to be required for the generation of antibody-secreting plasma cells from B lymphocytes.

More recently, her laboratory identified new proteins that control osteoblast and osteoclast commitment and activation in skeletal biology with significant implications for diseases of bone, including osteoporosis, osteoarthritis and cancer metastasis to bone. This body of work may provide a conceptual framework to therapeutically manipulate these responses in the settings of human disease.

As president of the American Association of Immunologists, she started a pilot program to provide supplementary funds for postdoctoral fellows who are primary caregivers of dependents.

Glimcher is a member of the American Asthma Foundation, Immune Diseases Institute, Health Care Ventures, Burroughs-Wellcome Fund and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center scientific advisory boards and serves on the Cancer Research Institute Fellowship Committee.

Among her numerous awards are: the American Association of University Women Senior Scholar Award (2006); American College of Rheumatology Distinguished Investigator Award (2006); Dean's Award for Leadership in the Advancement of Women Faculty (2006); the Klemperer Award from the New York Academy of Medicine (2003); the American Society of Clinical Investigation Outstanding Investigator Award (2001); and the FASEB Excellence in Science Award (2000).

She has authored more than 350 scientific articles and chapters, including studies that have been published in leading journals such as Science, Nature, Cell, Immunity, Genes and Development, Journal of Clinical Investigation (JCI), Journal of Experimental Medicine and Cancer Cell.

Glimcher received her B.A., magna cum laude, in 1972 from Harvard University and her M.D., cum laude, in 1976 from Harvard Medical School.


John Rodgers
jdr2001@med.cornell.edu

Posted September 7, 2011 12:00 AM | Permalink to this post