Sept. 7, 2011

New dean, Dr. Laurie Glimcher, will lead Weill Cornell expansion of medical research

Laurie Glimcher
John Abbott
Dr. Laurie Glimcher

NEW YORK -- Dr. Laurie Glimcher, a leading physician-scientist and researcher, has been named Cornell's provost for medical affairs and the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean at Weill Cornell Medical College in Manhattan effective Jan. 1, 2012, Cornell President David Skorton announced Sept. 7.

Skorton said that Glimcher is the ideal choice to lead Weill Cornell at a time of unprecedented growth as the medical school expands its biomedical research enterprise in New York City through the construction of a new research building that will double its existing research space. Weill Cornell has nearly completed a $1.3 billion capital campaign aimed at positioning the medical college at the vanguard of new medical research and discoveries.

Glimcher will succeed Dr. Antonio M. Gotto Jr., who has served as dean since 1997 and will become co-chairman of the board of overseers for the college and vice president of Cornell.

Glimcher is the Irene Heinz Given Professor of Immunology at the Harvard School of Public Health, where she directs the Division of Biological Sciences program, and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, where she headed one of the top immunology programs in the world.

"I am honored and delighted that Dr. Glimcher has accepted the challenge of guiding our great institution," said Skorton, who also is a medical doctor. "Her passion for accomplishment and her many research and clinical strengths make her ideally suited to build on Tony Gotto's strong foundation and lead Weill Cornell's bright future in clinical care, education and translational research as well as participate at the highest level of Cornell University in fostering excellence in the life sciences."

Glimcher's pioneering research laboratory at Harvard is known for its many discoveries, ranging from the T-bet transcription factor, which regulates a variety of immune functions, to the Schnurri-3 adapter protein that controls adult bone mass. And her clinical expertise has helped position her as a leader in translational medicine, taking path-breaking discoveries from concept to clinic, often in partnership with the private sector.

Her service with the biopharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb, where she is the longest-standing member of the corporate board of directors and of its audit committee, has afforded her extensive experience in management oversight, corporate governance, corporate finance, accountability, leadership and the practical aspects of running a business and bringing therapeutics to the marketplace. She also serves on the board of directors of the Waters Corp. and served in the same capacity at NDCHealth Corp.

"I am confident she will lead the college with the same creativity and acumen she demonstrated when she pioneered the establishment of Bristol-Myers' science and technology committee, which is widely credited for transforming its stake in research," said Sanford I. Weill, chairman of the medical college's board of overseers and a member of the board of trustees of Cornell University.

Glimcher is board certified in internal medicine and rheumatology and is senior rheumatologist at the Brigham and Women's Hospital. She also is a board member of the Ragon Institute of Massachusetts General Hospital, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard and an associate member of the Broad Institute.

Her appointment builds on Weill Cornell's partnerships with leading biotech and pharmaceutical companies and its commitment to being a leader in translational medicine and the development of path-breaking therapies to improve patients' lives.

Glimcher's research has been unusually interdisciplinary and has resulted in numerous patents to her credit and given her a very broad perspective on many different key areas of biomedical science at the medical college. She is an immunologist who has also studied cancer, metabolic disease, neurodegenerative disease and skeletal biology.

Commenting on the increasing collaboration between researchers on Cornell's Ithaca campus and in New York City, Glimcher noted, "I am eager to work on these unique collaborations and on technology transfer. Having recently chaired Harvard's committee on inventions, patents and policy, I am delighted to hear that Cornell has launched more than 20 startups in the last two years. There will be a wealth of opportunities."

Dr. Laurie Glimcher is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the National Academy of Sciences USA and a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. She also is a member and past president of the American Association of Immunologists, which awarded her the Huang Meritorious Career Award in 2006 and the Excellence in Mentoring Award in 2008. She also was elected to the American Society of Clinical Investigation, from which she received the Outstanding Investigator Award in 2001, and to the American Association of Physicians and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Glimcher's laboratory at Harvard uses biochemical and genetic approaches to elucidate the molecular pathways that regulate lymphocyte development and activation in the immune system. Cell-mediated immunity involves T helper lymphocyte responses that are critical for both the development of protective immunity and for the pathophysiologic immune responses underlying autoimmune, infectious, allergic and malignant diseases. Glimcher's laboratory has studied the regulatory pathways that control these important immune checkpoints by controlling the production of small hormone-like mediators called cytokines.

Her laboratory defined the genetic bases of cytokine expression in T helper lymphocytes. In 1996, she discovered that development of T cells that are important in allergy and asthma is regulated by the transcription factor c-maf. Several years later, in a landmark paper published in Cell, her laboratory identified another factor, T-bet, as the master regulator of T lymphocyte helper cells that are vital for fighting off pathogens and cancer. This paper has gone on to be cited over 1,100 times in the literature and has revolutionized the understanding of immunological lineage commitment. In a groundbreaking paper published in Nature, her laboratory also identified XBP1, the first transcription factor known to be required for the generation of antibody-secreting plasma cells from B lymphocytes.

More recently, her laboratory identified new proteins that control osteoblast and osteoclast commitment and activation in skeletal biology with significant implications for diseases of bone, including osteoporosis, osteoarthritis and cancer metastasis to bone. This body of work may provide a conceptual framework to therapeutically manipulate these responses in the settings of human disease.

As president of the American Association of Immunologists, she started a pilot program to provide supplementary funds for postdoctoral fellows who are primary caregivers of dependents.

Glimcher is a member of the American Asthma Foundation, Immune Diseases Institute, Health Care Ventures, Burroughs-Wellcome Fund and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center scientific advisory boards and serves on the Cancer Research Institute Fellowship Committee.

Among her numerous awards are: the American Association of University Women Senior Scholar Award (2006); American College of Rheumatology Distinguished Investigator Award (2006); Dean's Award for Leadership in the Advancement of Women Faculty (2006); the Klemperer Award from the New York Academy of Medicine (2003); the American Society of Clinical investigation Outstanding Investigator Award (2001); and the FASEB Excellence in Science Award (2000).

She has authored more than 350 scientific articles and chapters, including studies that have been published in leading journals such as Science, Nature, Cell, Immunity, Genes and Development, Journal of Clinical Investigation, Journal of Experimental Medicine and Cancer Cell.

Glimcher received her B.A., magna cum laude, in 1972 from Harvard University and her M.D., cum laude, in 1976 from Harvard Medical School.

Correction
The story has been corrected to reflect that the Klemperer Award was given by the New York Academy of Medicine, not the National Academy of Sciences.