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Two named to CD chairs

The appointments of two faculty members to career development professorships for three-year terms have been announced by Provost Mark S. Wrighton.

Assistant Professor Jun Liu of the Department of Biology, the Department of Chemistry and the Center for Cancer Research has been named to the Pfizer-Laubach Career Development Professorship.

Assistant Professor Chris A. Kaiser of the Department of Biology has been named the next Whitehead Career Development Professor.

Professor Liu, who received the BS from Nanjing University (1983), the MS from Ohio State University at Columbus (1986), both in chemistry, and the PhD from MIT (1990) in biochemistry, focuses his research on the application of chemical ligands to study the mechanisms of intracellular signal transduction responsible for cell proliferation and protein trafficking through the different subcellular compartments. The chemical ligands his group is currently studying include thalidomide, a drug known to cause birth defects, the immunosuppressant drugs cyclosporin and FK506, and a fungal metabolite called brefeldin that blocks protein secretion from eukaryotic cells.

He joined the MIT faculty in 1993 after a year as a research associate with the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. From 1990-92 he was a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard.

Professor Kaiser received the AB in biochemistry from Harvard (1980) and the PhD from MIT (1987). In 1980-81 he studied at the California Institute of Technology and from 1987-90 he was a Helen Hay Whitney Fellow at the University of California at Berkeley. The chair he holds was established by a gift from the late Jack Whitehead, founder of the Whitehead Institute.

His research is concentrated on the molecular-level study of the control of intracellular membrane function using the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, in which secretion pathways are like those in the cells of mammals.

In 1992 Professor Kaiser was one of 17 researchers nationally selected as Searle Scholars. Each scholar received a $180,000 grant over three years for research support. Professor Kaiser's project is "Molecular Genetics of Organelle Assembly."

A version of this article appeared in the November 2, 1994 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 39, Number 10).

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