Harvard Medical School announced yesterday that William B. Chin has been appointed executive dean for research, a position responsible for managing the school’s interdisciplinary research efforts.
According to a letter sent to the school’s community by HMS Dean Jeffrey S. Flier, Chin has spent much of his career pursuing interdisciplinary and translational research, efforts that aim to apply laboratory research to medical treatments.
Chin’s appointment comes at a time when University President Drew G. Faust has said that Harvard should prioritize interdisciplinary research as a way to tackle some of the world’s most pressing problems such as climate change.
Chin, currently the senior vice president of discovery and clinical research at the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, spent 25 years as a professor at HMS, where he published nearly 300 papers or book-chapters and was awarded numerous academic awards.
“As a pioneering molecular endocrinologist at HMS, he embraced the early use of emerging DNA technology to make important discoveries regarding the structure, function, and regulation of hormone genes,” Flier wrote in the e-mail.
In his new post, Chin will also be responsible in part for managing the school’s relationship with the medical and pharmaceutical industries.
HMS has garnered significant criticism in the past for maintaining a close relationship with the industries and for not disclosing ties to drug companies.
Partners HealthCare, the company that owns two Harvard affiliated teaching hospitals, rolled out a revised conflict of interest policy earlier this year that capped compensation levels for employees who sit on the boards of pharmaceutical companies. The policy was hailed by experts for its stringent restrictions.
HMS will announce the results of an internal review of its conflict of interest policy in coming months.
Chin will assume his new position May 1.