December 2011

NIH taps Chris Kaiser as new NIGMS director

Chris A. Kaiser

Chris A. Kaiser, the MacVicar professor and head of the department of biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will become the director of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences in the spring. He will replace Judith H. Greenberg, who became acting director in July after American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology President-elect Jeremy M. Berg moved to the University of Pittsburgh to become associate senior vice chancellor.

“Dr. Kaiser has tremendous energy and enthusiasm for research and training – two key components of the NIGMS mission – that make him ideal for this position,” said Francis S. Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, in a recent statement. “His scientific vision, leadership skills and collaborative spirit are essential assets that will help him guide the institute during this era of great opportunity.”

As NIGMS director, Kaiser will handle a $2 billion basic research budget that supports more than 4,500 research grants. “In taking this position, I feel a compelling call to duty for national service and to be an advocate for the basic research enterprise,” said Kaiser in a statement. “For 50 years, NIGMS has laid the foundation for important medical advances, and I’m excited to build on these efforts.”

NIGMS has a number of programs to increase the diversity of the biomedical and behavioral research workforce. Indeed, Kaiser said he’s particularly interested in maintaining these programs. “Fostering scientific careers and improving workforce diversity are critical to research progress, and NIGMS has really taken a lead in this arena,” said Kaiser, who helped to increase the proportion of minority students within the MIT biology department from 5 percent to 18 percent over six years.

Kaiser, an expert on protein sorting and folding in yeast, also has co-authored the textbook “Molecular Cell Biology (fifth and sixth editions) and organized Cold Spring Harbor scientific meetings. He has served as an associate editor of the journal Molecular Biology of the Cell and as a member of the editorial board for the journal Traffic.

Raj_MukhopadhyayRajendrani Mukhopadhyay ( is the senior science writer for ASBMB Today and technical editor for JBC.  

Editor's note: Kaiser withdrew from the position, citing personal reasons, in late April. 

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