From the Director


David Page understands what Whitehead can do for talented young scientists. He arrived here in 1984 as the Institute’s first Whitehead Fellow. A graduate of Harvard Medical School, he established an independent research program with Whitehead funds and began publishing groundbreaking studies on the Y chromosome.

After becoming a Whitehead Member in 1988, Page continued to make important discoveries about sex determination. He was appointed a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine. He also received the MacArthur Foundation Prize Fellowship (1986), the Searle Scholar’s Award (1989), the Amory Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1997), and the Curt Stern Award from the American Society of Human Genetics (2003). His scientific prowess and thoughtful nature made him an ideal candidate to assume Whitehead’s directorship. After a year of interim service in the post, he was officially elected Director in December 2005. 



The Energy of a Scientific Community 

Each fall, Whitehead Institute holds its annual Scientific Retreat. It is an opportunity for our community to discuss the questions we are pursuing and the most recent fruits of those investigations. Virtually everyone attends — Members and Fellows, senior scientists and postdocs, operational and technical staff, and graduate students. Three days of scientific talks and poster sessions prompt deep and wide-ranging conversations — discussions that frequently yield “aha” moments of unanticipated connection and opportunities for partnership. Almost as important, there is laughter, there are conversations about books we’ve read and the families we’re nurturing, and Saturday night brings dancing into the small hours. 

The Retreat is a key to the sense of community and collaborative spirit that are hallmarks of the Institute’s culture. It is also a potent reminder that our people are the beating heart of our organization. State-of-the-art laboratories and technical facilities are crucial to advancing science. But it is human intellect, curiosity, passion, and resilience that truly move science forward. Our scientists — the unique intellectual engine they collectively constitute — make Whitehead Institute such a special place. 

I was particularly conscious of this fact during this year’s Scientific Retreat, because it was backgrounded by the ongoing recruitment and welcoming of new faculty and Whitehead Fellows. In September, we welcomed Ankur Jain as the newest Member of the Whitehead Institute faculty. He is representative of the kind of investigators we are recruiting: researchers whose intelligence, skill, and creativity signify the potential for great scientific achievement in the decades to come. 

The Whitehead Fellows Program continues to be a launching pad for the finest young biomedical scientists in the world — creating the next generation of scientific leadership. Our newest Whitehead Fellow, Kristin Knouse, joined us in June, fresh from the joint Harvard-MIT MD-PhD program. Kristin’s laboratory is exploring the regenerative properties of hepatocytes, the primary cells of the liver. In coming months, we will be recruiting a successor to recent Whitehead Fellow David Pincus — who, we are very pleased to note, has joined the faculty of the University of Chicago. 

Ankur and Kristin have joined a community of pioneering, innovative, and courageous researchers whose work you can read about in the following pages. With this community of scientists at our core, Whitehead Institute is animated by intellectual energy — a frisson from new ideas, new board of directors, and fresh discoveries. That, I passionately believe, will never change. 

As our board of directors chair Charles Ellis reminds me, it’s not only scientists who advance discovery: A organization like Whitehead Institute also depends on its funding partners. In particular, we are lucky to have the support of philanthropists, foundations, and companies who are passionately committed to bioscience research and discovery. 

These generous people and organizations are an essential part of the Whitehead Institute community. Together, we are accelerating discovery and shaping the future of biomedicine. 


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David C. Page


Director David Page

Whitehead Institute Director David C. Page

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