H. Robert Horvitz (far left), the David H. Koch Professor of Biology, was among a group of Nobel laureates and other scientists and doctors who stood alongside President Barack Obama on Monday, March 9, as he signed an executive order on stem cell research. Horvitz, who won the 2002 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine and is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) investigator and member of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research and Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT, applauded as the president opened up embryonic stem cell research to federal funding.
Horvitz noted he was not the lone member of the MIT community at the event: Eric Lander, professor of biology and founding director of the Broad Institute, and President Emeritus Charles M. Vest were among those gathered in the audience. Lander is also a co-chair of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.
As Obama signed the order reversing the ban on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, he also issued a presidential memorandum aimed at ensuring that policy decisions are based on what he called "the soundest science."
"That's exactly the way it should be," Richard Hynes, the Daniel K. Ludwig Professor for Cancer Research in the Department of Biology, told the Boston Herald in reaction to Obama's memorandum. Hynes, a cell biologist and HHMI investigator, was co-chair of a 2005 committee established by the National Academies that developed guidelines for research involving human embryonic stem cells. Horvitz was also a member of that committee.Photo / George Daley
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on March 11, 2009 (download PDF).