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Weill Institute announces four new hires

The Weill Institute for Cell and Molecular Biology -- a cornerstone of Cornell's plan to restructure the life sciences -- has exceeded expectations for its first year by hiring four outstanding young researchers, according to the institute's director, Scott Emr.

"And we're planning to hire seven more faculty members over the next two to three years," said Anthony Bretscher, Cornell professor of molecular biology and genetics and the Weill Institute's associate director.

The three assistant professors and one research scientist will arrive in Ithaca in August, soon after the Weill Institute takes up residence in Weill Hall, Cornell's new life sciences technology building, in June.

The institute's main goals are to answer elusive questions about how cells function -- how molecules and proteins within cells are assembled and regulated and how cells communicate with their environments. Such signaling is the basis for proper cell growth, function, organization and development.

The new hires, selected from a pool of some 500 candidates, have expertise in both biological science and the use of cutting-edge technology and fit perfectly with the institute's agenda, said Bretscher.

The new assistant professors are:

The new scientists on campus will also be members of the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics. "They will complement expertise of our department by bringing in new technologies and new ways of thinking, while at the same time building a strong foundation for the institute," said Ken Kemphues, professor and chair of molecular biology and genetics.

The presence of Emr, a world-renowned biologist who joined Cornell's faculty in 2007, has helped to recruit in a highly competitive environment, said Bretscher.

"Scott's energy and drive has led to an exceptional recruiting season," said Bretscher. "We've had a wonderful first year for the institute; we couldn't hope for a better start."

In fine-tuning the laboratory spaces in the new building, the institute's directors and an internal advisory committee have designated a section of the space for collaborations between the Ithaca campus and Weill Cornell Medical College researchers.

In addition, three staff members were also hired, including Dianna Marsh, former administrative director of the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center, who is managing the institute.

The internal advisory committee of the Weill Institute for Cell and Molecular Biology helped steer the institute through a highly successful first year. The committee, made up of faculty from many departments, colleges and both Cornell campuses, meets about three times a year. They will continue to advise on decisions regarding recruitment, facilities and the institute's overall directions and goals.

The advisory committee members are: Barbara Baird and Brian Crane, professors of chemistry and chemical biology; Richard Cerione, professor of molecular medicine, chemistry and chemical biology; Ken Kemphues, professor and chair of molecular biology and genetics; Steve Kresovich, vice provost for life sciences; John Lis, professor of molecular biology and genetics; Fred Maxfield, professor of biochemistry at Weill Cornell Medical College; Adam Siepel, assistant professor of biological statistics and computational biology; Michelle Wang, associate professor of physics; and Warren Zipfel, associate professor of biomedical engineering.

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