Internationally renowned cancer and genomic researcher Joe Gray, PhD, of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, will be the new Chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering, holding the Gordon Moore Endowed Chair in Biomedical Engineering, effective January 1, 2011. Dr. Gray will also serve as the Director of the new OHSU Center for Spatial Systems Biomedicine.
“Dr. Gray’s recruitment and associated investment reinforce OHSU’s commitment to collaboration – at every organizational level, internally and externally – as an essential strategy to address the complexity of contemporary scientific questions,” said Dean Mark Richardson, MD, MBA.
Dr. Gray will oversee investment in new faculty and technology that will help realize the Knight Cancer Institute vision to unravel the molecular subtypes of cancer and to develop durable therapies for these cancers, as well as provide significant new resources for basic science research across OHSU. As part of this, Dr. Gray envisions a vital scientific future and leadership role for the Department of Biomedical Engineering, both within OHSU and nationally.
Dr. Gray will move quickly to establish the new OHSU Center for Spatial Systems Biomedicine. This multidisciplinary center will develop the teams and infrastructure necessary to create next-generation cell “assembly manuals” describing how molecular aberrations in cells function as a system. As Dr. Gray put it, “research in the past several decades has been focused on understanding the molecular components of cancer. The next phase of research will determine how the parts work together. Once you know how the parts work together in individual patients, it will be easier to understand how to develop more effective and durable treatments.”
Under Dr. Gray’s leadership, the center will establish and support new internal collaborations, as well as academic, government and industry partnerships. The center will eventually be located in the new collaborative life sciences building planned for the South Waterfront.
Dr. Gray, a physicist and an engineer, is one of the most highly regarded scientists in the field of cancer research. He is known for breakthroughs that have changed clinical practices for cancer patients including aspects of flow cytometry, a technique for counting and examining microscopic particles, such as cells and chromosomes. He also was a key participant in the development of the widely used fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) and comparative genomics hybridization (CGH) tests that map the genetic material in breast cancer patients’ cells.
Dr. Gray has held several influential leadership positions throughout his distinguished career including Associate Laboratory Director for Biosciences and Life Sciences Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; Professor of Laboratory Medicine, University of California, San Francisco; and, Cytophysics Section Leader, Biomedical Sciences Division, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. He currently is Principal Investigator of an NCI Breast Cancer SPORE, an NCI Center for Cancer Systems Biology award, and a DOD Innovator Project on early cancer detection, and Co-Principal Investigator of a Stand Up to Cancer Dream Team.
He has earned numerous awards and honors including the E.O. Lawrence Award from the U.S. Department of Energy, the Curt Stern Award from the American Society for Human Genetics, a Team Science Award from the American Association for Cancer Research and he has been elected as a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He serves as a member of the NCI Board of Scientific Advisors and the National Academy of Sciences Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board.
Key research staff and others from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, including Paul Spellman, PhD, will accompany Dr. Gray to OHSU. Dr. Spellman is an internationally regarded genome scientist. He will contribute to research at the new Center and will serve as a faculty member in the Department of Molecular & Medical Genetics. Dr. Gray will also recruit six new faculty members to OHSU, who will hold primary appointments in either basic or clinical departments depending on the best academic fit.
"I want to thank all the people at OHSU who worked with visionary tenacity on this recruitment for many months," said Dr. Richardson, "in particular, Knight Director/Associate Dean for Oncology Brian Druker and Associate Dean for Basic Science Mary Stenzel-Poore. We are all very grateful for the generous gift from Phil and Penny Knight and from all our valued donors for helping to make this possible."
Pictured: (top) Joe Gray, PhD; (bottom) 3D image