November 2011

Laurie Glimcher: New dean for Weill Cornell Medical School


Laurie Glimcher will be the first female dean in the 114 years of Weill Cornell Medical Center’s existence.

On Jan. 1, Laurie Glimcher of Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health will become the first woman to serve as dean of Weill Cornell Medical College in Manhattan. Glimcher is a practicing physician and has an impressive track record in biomedical research. Her laboratory exploits biochemical and genetic tools to elucidate the molecular pathways involved in lymphocyte development and activation in the immune system. In recent years, Glimcher’s research interests have expanded into skeletal biology. She also has experience in the pharmaceutical industry and sits on the board of Bristol-Myers Squibb and has collaborated with Merck Co.

The awards Glimcher has won over the years include the FASEB Excellence in Science Award (2000), the American Society of Clinical Investigation Outstanding Investigator Award (2001) and the American College of Rheumatology Distinguished Investigator Award (2006). She is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and belongs to the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. Glimcher is also a member and past president of the American Association of Immunologists.

ASBMB Today spoke with Glimcher to find out about her goals for Weill Cornell Medical College, her vision for the future of the biomedical research enterprise, her management style, and her ideas to help women take on more prominent roles in science and medicine. Below are edited excerpts from the interview:

What made you decide it was time to make a new career move? 

I was ready to spend more of my energy and effort in thinking about the health of biomedical research in this country. As a physician-scientist, I thought leading an academic medical institution, which was involved in basic biomedical research and translation of the research into the clinic, was the ideal place. This job came up, and I was asked to put in my CV. I spent a lot of time interviewing and thinking about [the job] and decided it was exactly what I was looking for.

What are some of the opportunities you see for WCMC? 

I want a place that is committed both to the basic biomedical sciences and the translation of discovery into the clinical care delivered to patients. WCMC is perfectly positioned to be on the forefront of academic medicine thanks to the fantastic work of the current dean, Antonio Grotto; Sanford Weill, who is the chair of the board of overseers; the board of overseers and the president of Cornell, David Skorton. A new research building, for which Tony Gotto, Sandy Weill and the others have raised $1.3 billion so far, is going up with the intent of making it into a first-rate biomedical research center. It has one of the best hospitals in New York City, outstanding medical education, an excellent graduate student program and, clearly, a history of greatness in the biomedical sciences. My feeling is that with this brand-new research building under construction, WCMC is poised for pre-eminence in the biomedical sciences, which it has already achieved in clinical medicine.

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