After an exhaustive national search, Carol W. Greider,
a Johns Hopkins faculty member since 1997 and
internationally known for her work on telomerase, has been
named the Daniel Nathans Professor and Director of the
Department of Molecular
Biology and Genetics at The Johns Hopkins University
School of Medicine. The appointment was effective Aug.
Greider has served as interim director of the
department since 2002. She was elected this year to
membership in the National Academy of Sciences and the
Academy of Arts and Sciences. She also received the
National Academy's Richard Lounsbery Award in April.
In their letter recommending Greider for the post, the
search committee, headed by Richard Huganir, professor of
neuroscience, and Martin Abeloff, director of the
Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, noted her strengths in
leadership, research and teaching, a sentiment echoed by
colleagues at Hopkins.
"It's so wonderful to choose among highly qualified
candidates and to select one from among your own ranks,"
said Edward D. Miller, dean of
the medical faculty and CEO of
Medicine. "With her experience and with the full
support of the institution, Carol is going to be a
wonderful addition to Hopkins leadership and an advocate
for basic research. We're just so pleased."
Greider's career has focused on investigating basic
biological questions, but the answers have turned out to
have dramatic implications for disease research. As a
University of California at Berkeley graduate student
studying how a single-celled, pond-dwelling critter copied
its chromosomes, Greider discovered the enzyme, called
telomerase, that rebuilds chromosomes' ends. Now, 19 years
later, telomerase is recognized as a major player in
cancers and is a possible target for treating them.
"When you're pursuing answers to basic biological
questions -- how DNA is copied, how cells divide--you
aren't really expecting a disease-related application;
you're trying to satisfy your curiosity," Greider said.
"But such research usually does reach a point with
implications for health and disease and is absolutely vital
to the process of advancing knowledge and medicine."
Greider's plans for the department include hiring
three new faculty. She herself was part of the last group
of three added to the department.
"We have a diverse faculty with expertise in a wide
range of areas, so we'll be looking for talented,
thoughtful people engaged in fundamental work applicable to
all organisms, rather than filling out any particular
fields," Greider said. "We're intimately connected with the
school's Institute for Basic Biomedical Sciences, and so we
want to bring together people studying similar problems
through different approaches."
The department's current faculty--13 primary and 21
with joint appointments in Molecular Biology and
Genetics--are working in yeast, fruit flies, worms, human
cells, mice and rats on projects ranging from development,
olfaction (smell) and vision to fundamental molecular
processes inside cells.
Greider holds a bachelor's degree in biology from the
University of California, Santa Barbara, and a doctorate in
molecular biology from UC Berkeley. Her postgraduate
training began in 1988 as a fellow at the Cold Spring
Harbor Laboratory on Long Island, where she progressed to
the rank of investigator before joining Johns Hopkins in
1997 as an associate professor in the Department of
Molecular Biology and Genetics. She was promoted to full
professor in 1999 and holds a joint appointment in the
Department of Oncology.
Greider has served on numerous national committees,
including the National Bioethics Advisory Committee during
the Clinton administration, and has received many
prestigious awards in recognition of her contributions to
science, including the Gairdner Foundation Award and the
Rosenstiel Award. She was also a Pew Biomedical Scholar.
Molecular biologist Daniel Nathans, for whom Greider's
professorship is named, was a longtime Johns Hopkins
professor of molecular biology and genetics and shared the
Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine in 1978 for using
enzymes as biochemical "scissors" to cut DNA at precise,
predictable places, an advance that revolutionized the
study of genes and genetic material. He served as interim
president of the university from June 1995 to August 1996.
Recipient of the National Medal of Science, Nathans died in
Related Web Site
Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics