I’m writing to share the important news that Eric Lander will be returning to Broad as a Core Institute Member and Founding Director Emeritus, as well as to his tenured faculty positions at MIT and Harvard.
Before I say more about Eric, I want to address an important issue.
As you know, Eric took a two-year leave to serve the country as science advisor in the White House. His departure from Washington last year stimulated important and often tough discussions about academic culture here and across the nation. The ability to wrestle with difficult issues head-on is part of what defines a healthy and resilient community. I’ve been proud that Broadies – from our most junior trainees to our Board of Directors – have been so engaged in thoughtfully addressing the nuanced complexities of academic power dynamics and the importance of respectful discourse. Our community seeks to enable the scientific rigor and sense of urgency that are needed to address today’s most pressing biomedical problems in ways that are welcoming for all. At Broad, we have high expectations for all Broadies to foster an inclusive culture of respect, regardless of role, stature, or identity. Eric also deeply values this culture and is committed to upholding it.
While many of you know Eric well, some newer Broadies do not. So, I’d like to re-introduce him to our community.
For more than three decades, Eric has been a driving force in biomedical research. He was a principal driver of the Human Genome Project, showing that sequencing the genome was not only feasible, but also would lay a foundation for biomedicine that would be transformative. With colleagues in Boston and across the world, he saw that discovering genetic variation across populations, and associating those variants with disease risk, would inform new strategies to address the biological basis of disease. Such big ideas, coupled with the ability to execute on complex, often seemingly impossible goals, became Eric’s signature. He has demonstrated that scientists working together to create public resources can result in raising all boats across the biomedical research ecosystem.
This spirit became the inspiration for the Broad Institute, which Eric willed into existence together with philanthropists Eli and Edye Broad and our partners at MIT and Harvard, and led for 16 years as its founding director. During those years, the Broad and our science flourished, deepening our roots in human genetics and expanding into data science, functional genomics, chemical biology, therapeutics, and disease biology. Eric encouraged Broadies to pursue science with a sense of urgency, helping them see that progress was more within reach than they might have imagined. He mentored an entire generation of scientists, many of whom have become leaders in our community — continuing the tradition of collaborative, cutting-edge science aimed at accelerating progress for patients worldwide.
Eric will return to running his lab, and in addition I’ve asked him to do what he does best: elevate Broadies’ science by helping us imagine what might be possible. Having built and managed the Broad for so many years, Eric is excited now to focus fully on his greatest passion and skill—helping to develop scientific vision, especially by mentoring others to stretch their imaginations and supporting them in turning vision into reality. Eric will also spend time outside of Broad building Science for America, an organization he helped launch in 2022. Broad’s Board of Directors has reviewed the plan for Eric’s return in detail, and joins me in welcoming him back to the community.
As I’ve said many times before, Broad cannot rest on its laurels. Our mission requires that we continually advance the cutting edge of science and nurture the amazing culture of this institution. That means doubling down on our commitment to transformative technologies and their application to pressing biomedical problems. And it means continuing to advance our commitment to a vibrant, supportive and inclusive culture. All this will take work. I’m happy that Eric is coming back to continue with us in this inspiring effort.
Eric will be back around the Broad starting in early February, and plans to write to the community once he’s had the chance to settle in. I know he’s very much looking forward to being part of the Broad family once again.