Topic: Eric Lander

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Eric Steven Lander (born February 3, 1957) is a Professor of Biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), a member of the Whitehead Institute, and director of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard who has devoted his career toward realizing the promise of the human genome for medicine. He is co-chair of President Obama's council of science and technology advisers

He was captain of the math team at Stuyvesant High School, graduating in 1974 and then attended Princeton University, where he graduated valedictorian. At the age of seventeen, he wrote a paper on quasiperfect numbers for which he won the Westinghouse Prize. He wrote his doctorate on symmetric designs at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, under the supervision of Peter Cameron. As a mathematician he studied combinatorics and applications of representation theory to coding theory. He enjoyed mathematics but did not wish to spend his life in such a "monastic career." Unsure of what to do next, he took up a job teaching managerial economics at Harvard Business School; he also began to write a book on information theory. At the suggestion of his brother, Arthur Lander, he started to look at neurobiology "because there's a lot of information in the brain." In order to understand mathematical neurobiology, he felt he had to study cellular neurobiology; this in turn led to studying microbiology and continued down to the level of genetics. "When I finally feel I have learned genetics, I should get back to these other problems. But I'm still trying to get the genetics right".

His studies introduced him to David Botstein, a geneticist working at MIT. Botstein was working on a way to unravel how subtle differences in complex genetic systems can become disorders like cancer, diabetes, schizophrenia, and even obesity. Lander then joined Whitehead Institute (1986) and later joined MIT as a geneticist. In 1987, he was given the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship. In 1990 he founded the WICGR (Whitehead Institute/MIT Center for Genome Research). WICGR became one of the world's leading centers of genome research, and under Dr. Lander's leadership, it has made great progress in developing new methods of analysing mammalian genomes. The Whitehead Institute has also made important breakthroughs in applying this information to the study of human variation and particularly the study of medical genetics. The WICGR formed the basis for the foundation of the Broad Institute, a transformation in which Dr. Lander was instrumental.

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