Eric S. Lander, Ph.D.

Eric Lander is founding director and a core institute member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. A geneticist, molecular biologist, and mathematician, he has played a pioneering role in all aspects of the reading, understanding, and biomedical application of the human genome. He was a principal leader of the international Human Genome Project.

As founding director, Lander plays a leading role in shaping the conception, development, distillation, and execution of Broad’s scientific directions to drive the Broad community’s shared impact. He also serves as a key mentor and strategist to Broad’s scientific community and administrative leadership, especially around issues of major strategic and scientific importance.

A widely recognized scientific visionary, Lander has developed powerful methods for discovering the molecular basis of human diseases. Among them were the first methods for mapping the genes underlying polygenic disorders in which many genes play a role — including heart disease, diabetes, schizophrenia, and Alzheimer's disease; these paradigms have led to mapping of 100,000s of genetic variants associated with human diseases and traits, shedding light on the underlying biological mechanisms.

To enable these medical applications, Lander has been a driving force in the discovery and characterization of the genetic information contained in the human genome. This work has included: the first human genome sequence; the human protein-coding gene; the genetic variants in the human populations; the non-coding regulatory controls; long, functional non-coding RNAs; three-dimensional folding of the human genome; and genome-wide screens to discover gene functions.

Lander is professor of biology at MIT and professor of systems biology at Harvard Medical School. From 1991 to 2004, Lander founded and led the Whitehead/MIT Center for Genome Research, which became a flagship of the international Human Genome Project. In 2004, he founded the Broad Institute and served as its president and founding director through 2021. From 2009 to 2017, he served as co-chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology for President Barack Obama. From 2021 to 2022, he took a leave of absence to serve as President Biden’s Science Advisor and a member of his cabinet, as well as Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. In 2022, Lander launched Science for America, a solutions incubator focused on addressing urgent challenges including the climate and energy crisis, medicine and public health, and STEM equity and education.

Lander’s honors and awards include the MacArthur Fellowship, the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, the Albany Prize in Medicine and Biological Research, the Gairdner Foundation International Award of Canada, the Dan David Prize of Israel, the Mendel Medal of the Genetics Society in the UK, the City of Medicine Award, the Abelson Prize from the AAAS, the Award for Public Understanding of Science and Technology from the AAAS, the Woodrow Wilson Prize for Public Service from Princeton University, the James R. Killian Jr. Faculty Achievement Award from MIT, the William Allan Award from the American Society of Human Genetics, and 14 honorary doctorates.

Casey Atkins Photography

December 2023