Eric Lander

Biologist, Mathematician, and Geneticist

Eric Lander was one of the principal leaders of the Human Genome Project, which from 1990-2003 mapped the human genetic code. He has pioneered the application of genomics to the understanding human disease.

Lander serves as President and Founding Director of the Broad Institute, a new kind of collaborative research institution founded in 2004 that brings together more than 1500 scientists from across Harvard, MIT and the Harvard hospitals to tackle important challenges in biomedicine. The Broad Institute has been a flagship for many international projects in genomics. Lander is also the professor of biology at MIT and professor of systems biology at Harvard Medical School in Boston. Lander’s own scientific work has spanned genome analysis, population genetics, cancer, diabetes, inflammatory diseases, and evolutionary biology. 

A graduate of Stuyvesant High School in New York City, Princeton University in New Jersey, and a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University in England, Lander was trained as a mathematician. In the early 1980s, he began to learn biology and genetics. In 1990, he launched one of the first genome centers in the world at MIT.

In 2008, Lander was appointed by President Obama to co-chair the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). PCAST is a council of 20 of the nation’s leading scientists and engineers, charged with providing direct advice to the president on matters of science and technology.

Lander has received numerous awards and honorary degrees, including the MacArthur Prize Fellowship, Canada’s Gairdner Prize and the Albany Prize in Medicine. He is particularly proud of winning MIT’s award for undergraduate teaching, and continues to teach introductory biology to MIT freshman.

Photo credit - Len Rubenstein