Developmental biologist Dr. Arthur Lander named Donald Bren Professor

UCI researcher noted for advancing emerging field of systems biology

Irvine, Calif., Feb. 28, 2013 — Arthur Lander, M.D., Ph.D., a recognized leader in the emerging field of systems biology, whose research has helped identify underlying causes for some cancers and birth defects has been named the Donald Bren Professor of Developmental and Cell Biology.

The Bren Professors Endowment was established with a gift from Donald Bren, chairman of The Irvine Company, to help UC Irvine attract and retain the nation’s foremost scholars. Dr. Lander joins a distinguished group of faculty researchers, which includes his School of Biological Sciences colleagues, evolutionary biologists Francisco J. Ayala, a 2002 National Medal of Science honoree, and Michael Clegg, the foreign secretary of the National Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Lander holds appointments in the departments of developmental & cell biology and biomedical engineering at UC Irvine, and he is the founding director of the Center for Complex Biological Systems. He served as chair of developmental & cell biology from 2000 to 2007.

“Arthur Lander is an exemplary world-class leader in systems biology, and this endowment recognizes his success and continued dedication to understanding how complex cell interactions can lead to serious diseases and conditions,” said Albert Bennett, Ph.D., the Hana and Francisco J. Ayala Dean of the UC Irvine School of Biological Sciences.

As a researcher, Dr. Lander and his laboratory studies how cells communicate with each other to coordinate the complex behaviors that underlie development and regeneration. This research helps identify why birth defects happen, how tissues control their size, and how cancers develop. Dr. Lander helped identify the gene for Cornelia de Lange syndrome, a disabling multisystem genetic disease that affects one in 10,000 children and, with collaborators at UCI, developed animal models that are being used to find ways to prevent and/or treat this disorder.

For more than a decade, Dr. Lander has also been a recognized leader in systems biology, an emerging field of study that exploits the tools of mathematics, engineering and computer science to examine how networks of molecules, cells, tissues and organs interact in complex, dynamic ways to enable biological systems to function reliably.

In 2001, he founded the Center for Complex Biological Systems at UC Irvine, which at the time was the first of its kind in California. Since then, the center has helped UC Irvine garner more than $36 million in federal and private aid for research, education and outreach by teams of biologists, mathematicians, physical scientists and engineers. It’s currently one of 15 National Centers for Systems Biology funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, one of the National Institutes of Health.

“I am grateful to UC Irvine and the Bren Professor Endowment for giving me this exciting opportunity to continue and expand my efforts in research, teaching and community engagement,” Dr. Lander said. “I have found UCI to be a great environment for doing cross-cutting, interdisciplinary research, because the academic culture really rewards openness and collaboration. The ease with which one can form a team of colleagues from different disciplines has been critical to my ability to work on some of the most complex and difficult biological problems out there.”

Dr. Lander, 54, is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He received Ph.D. and M.D. degrees from UC San Francisco, and joined the UC Irvine faculty in 1995.

About the Donald Bren Professors: The Bren Professors Endowment was established with a gift from Donald Bren, chairman of The Irvine Company, to help UC Irvine attract and retain the nation’s foremost scholars. Other Bren Professors include condensed matter physicist Wilson Ho, molecular geneticist Paolo Sassone-Corsi, immunologist Dr. Paolo Casali, health policy expert and physician Dr. Sheldon Greenfield, and cancer biologist Wen-Hwa Lee. As part of the endowment, there are two Bren Professors in the Claire Trevor School of the Arts who hold the additional title of Claire Trevor Professors – world-famous choreographer and professor of dance Donald McKayle and renowned professor of drama and playwright Robert Cohen.

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UC Irvine is a top-ranked university dedicated to research, scholarship and community service. Led by Chancellor Michael Drake since 2005, UC Irvine is among the most dynamic campuses in the University of California system, with more than 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students, 1,100 faculty and 9,400 staff. Orange County’s second-largest employer, UC Irvine contributes an annual economic impact of $4.3 billion. For more UC Irvine news, visit news.uci.edu.

News Radio: UC Irvine maintains on campus an ISDN line for conducting interviews with its faculty and experts. Use of this line is available for a fee to radio news programs/stations that wish to interview UC Irvine faculty and experts. Use of the ISDN line is subject to availability and approval by the university.

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