Dr. Robert A. Weinberg, the Daniel K. Ludwig Professor for Cancer Research and an American Cancer Society Research Professor, has been named the winner of the Killian Faculty Achievement Award for 1999.
The appointment was announced by Professor Boris Magasanik, chair of the award's selection committee, at the May 19 faculty meeting. The Killian award, he noted, "is the greatest honor the faculty can bestow on one of its members."
Dr. Weinberg was called to the microphone when the award was announced. "I'm stunned," said Dr. Weinberg, who first came to MIT as an undergraduate in 1960. "I've been here, on and off, for 39 years, and never imagined that I would be recognized by this august faculty in this fashion." He will deliver the annual Killian Lecture next spring.
"Professor Weinberg's field is cell biology and the focus of his research has been the conversion of normal cells into tumor cells," Professor Magasanik said in making the announcement. "His studies have revealed the genetic and molecular mechanisms responsible for this event." He noted that Professor Weinberg's findings "have not only led to promising approaches to the prevention and ultimately the possible cure of neoplastic diseases, but have also greatly enhanced our understanding of the complex and subtle mechanisms responsible for growth and maintenance of the organs of multicellular organisms."
Professor Weinberg, a founding member of the Whitehead Institute, is the author or editor of six books and more than 250 articles. His most recent book, One Renegade Cell, "presents an easily comprehensible, interesting, accurate and engaging account of the struggle to understand cancer," said Professor Magasanik.
He has received numerous awards and honors for his research, including the National Science Medal in 1997. Others include the Discover Magazine 1982 Scientist of the Year, the National Academy of Sciences/US Steel Foundation Award in Molecular Biology, the Sloan Prize of the General Motors Cancer Research Foundation, the Bristol-Myers Award for Distinguished Achievement in Cancer Research, the Harvey Prize from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, the Gairdner Foundation International Award and the Elizabeth A. Wood Science Writing Award from the American Crystallographic Association.
Professor Weinberg received the SB (1964) and PhD (1969) from MIT, both in biology. He did postdoctoral research at the Weizmann Institute in Rehovoth, Israel and the Salk Institute in La Jolla, CA before returning to MIT in 1972 as a research associate with Dr. David Baltimore. He was an assistant professor in the Department of Biology and the Center for Cancer Research from 1973-76 and anassociate professor from 1976-82, when he was promoted to full professor. He has been an American Cancer Society Research Professor at Whitehead since 1985 and was appointed to the Ludwig chair in 1997.
Professor Weinberg is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has served on the Scientific and Academic Advisory Committee for the Weizmann Institute since 1990 and on the Research Advisory Board of Massachusetts General Hospital from 1991-95. He is honorary director of the American Cancer Society's Massachusetts division.
Besides Professor Magasanik, members of the Killian committee were Professors Robert C. Armstrong, Suzanne Berger and Jean P. de Monchaux.
A version of this article appeared in the June 2, 1999 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 43, Number 32).