Composite image of Robert Satcher and Seth Alexander.

Courtesy of Robert Satcher and Seth Alexander.

Whitehead Institute Adds Oncologist/Former Astronaut and Head of MIT’s Investment Management Company to its Board of Directors

The Whitehead Institute Board of Directors has elected two new, accomplished members for six-year terms: Robert L. Satcher, a surgeon and researcher who journeyed to the International Space Station on space shuttle Atlantis; and Seth Alexander, president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Investment Management Company.
“Forgive the pun, but we are over-the-moon to have Bobby and Seth join our governance team,” says board chair Sarah Keohane Williamson. “They bring extraordinary knowledge and expertise in their respective fields and substantial experience working with academic research institutions.”
Robert Satcher earned bachelor’s and PhD degrees in chemical engineering from MIT and an MD from Harvard Medical School. He is an associate professor of orthopaedic oncology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston (MDACC), where he specializes in the treatment of skeletal metastatic disease and soft tissue sarcoma and in development of tools and approaches to improve surgical outcomes. His translational research is focused on tumor-bone cell interactions during bone metastasis progression. In addition, he is working with MDACC and other partners to develop a cancer center in sub-Saharan Africa; co-founded the eHealth Research Institute to improve access to specialized health care; and has performed medical missions in underserved countries in Africa and Central America, as a member of Doctors United in Medical Missions.
A former NASA astronaut, in 2009 Satcher participated in an 11-day mission to the International Space Station, during which he took two spacewalks and was the crew’s medical doctor. Previously, he served on the faculty of Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and held an adjunct appointment in Northeastern University’s biomedical engineering department. Earlier in his career, he was a Schweitzer Fellow at the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Gabon, and completed fellowships at University of California, Berkeley and University of Florida. 

Satcher will serve as a member of the board’s leadership advisory committee. Since 2006, Seth Alexander has been president of the MIT Investment Management Company (MITIMCO), which manages  the university’s endowment, and oversees investment of its currentfunds, pension assets, and other institutional assets. Between 2006 and 2019, the MIT endowment grew from approximately $10 billion to approximately $17.6 billion. Prior to joining MITIMCO, Alexander was a director at the Yale University Investments Office, where he worked for 10 years. He also served a Management Fellow at the Yale School of Management and co-taught a class on endowment management. Alexander earned a BS in biology from Yale in 1995. For 12 years prior to joining the Institute board, he served as a member of its investment committee and will continue to do so; he will also serve on the finance committee.


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