Close up of Sally Kornbluth

Sally Kornbluth, PhD, President of MIT

MIT President Sally Kornbluth joins Whitehead Institute Board of Directors

The Whitehead Institute Board of Directors has elected Sally Kornbluth, president of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), to a six-year term. A cell biologist, Kornbluth became MIT’s 18th president on January 1, 2023, following her eight-year tenure as provost of Duke University.

“We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Kornbluth to our board of directors,” says board chair Sarah Keohane Williamson. “An accomplished scientist, brilliant administrator, and creative problem-solver, her knowledge, experience, and vision will better enable us to advance Whitehead Institute’s mission of forging new frontiers in science and uncovering insights today that unlock the potential of tomorrow.”

“With its pioneering approach to collaborative and courageous science, Whitehead Institute has been a major force in the development of Kendall Square as the center of the world’s top biotech hub,” Kornbluth says. “As both a scientist and educator, I am excited by this opportunity to contribute to its continuing success and impact.”

Ruth Lehmann, Whitehead Institute President and Director, says, “Dr. Kornbluth’s decision to join our board of directors reflects, I believe, both her confidence in the Institute’s ongoing importance to the advancement of foundational biological research and her commitment to the robust scientific and academic relationship that MIT and Whitehead Institute have nurtured since our founding in 1982.”

Kornbluth earned bachelor’s degrees in political science and in genetics from, respectively, Williams College and Cambridge University, and a PhD in molecular oncology from Rockefeller University. She completed postdoctoral training at the University of California, San Diego, then in 1994, joined the Duke faculty. In 2006, she became vice dean for basic science at the Duke School of Medicine, a post she held until she became Duke’s provost in 2014.

In her research, Kornbluth has focused on the biological signals that tell a cell to start dividing or to self-destruct — processes key to understanding cancer and various degenerative disorders. Her work has helped to show how cancer cells evade programmed death, how metabolism regulates the cell death process; and it has clarified the role of programmed cell death in regulating the duration of female fertility in vertebrates.

Among other honors, Kornbluth is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine, the National Academy of Inventors and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.



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