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New Bauer Center Head Named

By Ashish Agrawal, Contributing Writer

Dr. Erin K. O’Shea, currently a professor of biochemistry and biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), has been named professor of molecular and cellular biology at Harvard and co-director of the Bauer Center for Genomics Research.

Starting next August, O’Shea will join current director Andrew W. Murray, professor of molecular and cellular biology, in making new appointments to the center, which has continued to attract star researchers and multi-million dollar grants since its founding four years ago.

“This is a great opportunity to bring some energy to the life sciences,” said Laura J. Garwin, the executive director of the Bauer Center. “Having another senior faculty member may bring more external funding from the [National Institutes of Health] while building further bridges to the rest of the Harvard faculty.”

The Bauer Center staff, which includes dozens of fellows and researchers, uses interdisciplinary research to study the interactions between thousands of molecules in every cell. O’Shea’s study of yeast development, signal transduction and eukaryotic transcription focuses on a wide range of molecules and interactions.

And even before her arrival, O’Shea said she has extensive plans to improve the structure of the Bauer Center.

O’Shea said that she hopes to supplement the center’s fellow program and state of the art equipment with a new batch of Harvard professors who can work across disciplines.

“We’ll add faculty members who will have appointments at Harvard who are also members of the Bauer Center,” she said. “We’re looking for professors who are at the boundary of various disciplines.”

O’Shea, who spent three months last year in Quincy House while on sabbatical, said she chose Harvard both for the fellow professors and for its undergraduates.

“I wanted the interaction with people in other departments,” she said. “The second reason is the contact with undergraduates. I have a strong interest in teaching undergraduates in the classroom and in the lab. It’s the way I got interested in research and in science.”

“The school appeals to some of the very best students in the country,” she added.

O’Shea received her undergraduate degree in biochemistry from Smith College in 1988 and her Ph.D. in chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1992. She then worked as a post-doctoral student at the University of California, Berkeley and UCSF. In 1993, O’Shea joined the UCSF faculty as an assistant professor.

O’Shea was recently elected to the National Academy of Sciences, and has also won a Packard Foundation Fellowship in Science and Engineering and a Presidential Faculty Fellow Award. Perhaps her most notable award is the National Academy of Sciences Award in Molecular Biology. A quarter of those who win the award go on to win Nobel Prizes.

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