Eric Lander, mathematician and geneticist


Eric Lander obtained his PhD in mathematics at Oxford in 1981. He began his career as a mathematician and began writing a book on information theory before being swayed by his brother, a developmental biologist, to turn to neurobiology. This led him to become interested in microbiology and then genetics, encouraged by geneticist David Boltstein (MIT) and David Baltimore (Nobel Prize in 1975), who offered him a position at the Whitehead Institute (MIT). He is one of the leaders of the international consortium on the sequencing of the human genome.

In 2003, he created the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, which developed many tools to understand the molecular basis of human diseases. His biomedical research covers many areas: genomics, population genetics, medical genetics (cancer, diabetes, inflammatory diseases) and evolution. Recognised as a world leader in the field of bioinformatics, he has developed a classification of cancers based on the level of expression of different genes. In 2008, President Obama appointed him Co-Chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), which brings together 21 of the best US scientists and engineers to advise the president on science and technology.

He coordinates a very popular MOOC on edX: Introduction to biology: The secret of life.

His sponsor: Sophie Lucas, professor at the UCL de Duve Institute.