Ruth Lehmann named as Department Chair

We are very pleased to announce that Ruth Lehmann, PhD, the Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Professor of Cell Biology and director of the Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine and the Helen L. and Martin S. Kimmel Center for Stem Cell Biology, has been named chair of the Department of Cell Biology.

Ruth is an internationally renowned leader in the field of developmental and stem cell biology, and has made seminal discoveries in those fields. She studies germ cells, the only naturally occurring immortal cells in our body, as they differentiate into sperm or egg and can give rise to a new organism. Focused on their unique function, she is interested in the signals that specify and guide migrating germ cells to the developing ovary and testis and the mechanisms that control the quality of germ cells as they mature into egg and sperm to assure the health of next generation.

Since joining the faculty of the School of Medicine as a professor of cell biology in 1996, Ruth has held several leadership roles at our institution. She is the founding director of the Helen L. and Martin S. Kimmel Center for Stem Cell Biology, and director of the Skirball Institute for Biomolecular Medicine and the Helen and Martin Kimmel Center for Biology and Medicine. Ruth has received numerous prestigious honors throughout her career, including appointment as an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in 1990 and 1997 and election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, and the European Molecular Biology Organization. In 2011, she received the Conklin Medal of the Society of Developmental Biology, which “recognizes a developmental biologist who has made and is continuing to make extraordinary research contributions to the field, and who is also an excellent mentor who has helped train the next generation of outstanding scientists.”

In addition, Ruth has served as president of the Society of Developmental Biology, the president of the Harvey Society, and she was elected to the council of the American Society for Cell Biology. She initiated graduate programs in Developmental Biology and Stem Cell Biology at NYU Medical Center, has advised graduate programs at Harvard Medical School, Harvard University, University of California San Francisco, and the University of Göttingen, Germany and serves on scientific advisory boards of departments and research institutes throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. She has been a member of the review boards of graduate student, postdoctoral fellow, and junior faculty funding agencies, a member and chair of the “Dev2” study section at the National Institutes of Health, and was recently asked to serve on the Council of the National Institute of Child Health. Finally, she serves on the editorial board of a number of scientific journals and was the managing editor of Development, one of the premier journals in the field of developmental biology.

After earning her doctoral degree from the University of Tübingen, Germany, and postdoctoral training at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England, Ruth served on the faculty at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research and Department of Biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and had appointments as a geneticist and molecular biologist at the Massachusetts General Hospital.

As its new chair, Ruth looks forward to building on the legacy of the department that was created by past chairs Howard Green and David Sabatini. The department will seek to address fundamental cellular processes at a quantitative level. Research in the department will take full advantage of recent and astonishing technological progress in bio-imaging, systems biology and bio-engineering. The long-term goal is to integrate cellular processes at the tissue and organismal level in order to uncover basic mechanisms underlying disease.

We’d like to thank Daniel Rifkin, PhD, interim department chair, for his superb leadership during this transition period. Please join us in wishing Ruth well in her new position.

Best wishes,

Dr. Robert I. Grossman
Dean and CEO