Richard D. Klausner, M.D., a special advisor on counterterrorism to the presidents of the National Academies, will deliver the keynote speech at the 2002 graduation ceremonies for the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology Wednesday, June 5, at the Harvard Club in Boston.
Klausner, former director of the National Institutes of Health National Cancer Institute, was appointed to his current post at the National Academies in January 2002. In 1999, Klausner spoke at MIT as part of the events celebrating the naming of the biology building in honor of David H. Koch (S.B. 1962, S.M.).
Credited with significant advances in cancer care for the American public during his six-year tenure at the NCI, he guided the creation and development of the Vaccine Research Center, and managed a $4.5 billion budget and a staff of 5,000. The NCI's annual strategic plan and budget proposal, "The Nation's Investment in Cancer Research," authored by Klausner, is one of the most widely cited examples of scientific planning in the world.
Klausner stepped down from his post as NCI director in September to briefly head the Case Institute of Health Science and Technology. In December, he joined the National Academies as a senior fellow and special advisor to the academy presidents for counterterrorism and as a liaison to the White House.
In his newly created role, Klausner uses his extensive ties in both the U.S. government and the scientific community to help the National Academies apply the best science and technology expertise to increasing homeland security. He co-chairs the Committee on the Science and Technology Agenda for Countering Terrorism, charged with identifying high-priority research agendas that focus on biological, chemical, nuclear and radiological threats; information technology; transportation; energy facilities, buildings and fixed infrastructure; and behavioral, social and institutional issues.
Klausner also serves as a direct liaison between the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Director John Marburger and National Academy counterterrorism efforts.
Commenting on how the United States can respond effectively to the potential threat of bioterrorism, Klausner said, "We will need to create products for which there may not be markets in the normal sense, but markets that must be driven, I suspect, by the government, recognizing national needs or potential national needs." He noted this would require sustained federal commitment to science and technology as well as new ways to synchronize the activities of the academic, public and private sectors.
In addition to his post at the National Academies, Klausner was named executive director of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's global health program earlier this month.
Klausner received his undergraduate degree from Yale and his M.D. from Duke University. Before joining the NCI, he was chief of the cell biology and metabolism branch of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. His research has focused on general and novel mechanisms to regulate complex genetic networks in human cells. His description of cellular iron metabolism has provided a detailed picture of post-transcriptional gene regulation.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on May 22, 2002.