Our faculty recruitment efforts seek out the very best researchers in bioscience, regardless of their specialty. Our newest faculty members are international leaders in their fields, and they rejuvenate our community with energy, fresh ideas, and specialized expertise.
Our community devotes substantial time and energy to faculty searches, with the goal of recruiting two to three exceptional new scientists each year. The past few recruitment cycles have been extraordinarily productive. We have welcomed seven new scientists working in a wide variety of disciplines to establish Rockefeller labs.
Understanding molecular machines
Two of the new recruits are interested in understanding tiny molecular “machines” that play important roles in a cell. Jue Chen (left), formerly at Purdue University and now William E. Ford Professor at Rockefeller, studies pumps that move nutrients and other small molecules into or out of a cell. A structural biologist, she crystallizes the molecules she is interested in and bombards them with x-rays in order to approximate their shape.
Shixin Liu, who wants to understand how several molecular machines work together to read DNA, is an expert in techniques capable of examining the individual movements of these components in real time. Shixin has a Ph.D. from Harvard and worked at the University of California, Berkeley, as a postdoc before joining Rockefeller as assistant professor.
Seeing inside cells
For science to march forward, technology must too. Thomas Walz (right) and Alipasha Vaziri are experts on tools that allow us to see inside cells as never before. Thomas specializes in a technique known as cryo-electron microscopy, which makes it possible to capture the structure of biological molecules at an extraordinarily high resolution. Thomas, a professor, was formerly on the faculty at Harvard.
Alipasha, meanwhile, who has a Ph.D. in quantum optics and has worked at the University of Vienna and at the NIH, observes brain cells in action. His sophisticated microscopes show three-dimensional views of a brain’s tangled neurons. He was named associate professor.
Immunity, metabolism, and obesity
The body’s immune system keeps constant vigil to protect us from disease, and one of its secret weapons is the antibody. Gabriel Victora, who trained at NYU and Rockefeller and has worked as a postdoc at MIT, studies the process by which antibodies—which help the immune system discern among invaders—are generated and “trained.” He is assistant professor.
Kivanç Birsoy, another assistant professor, is interested in metabolism. Cells, like people, must process nutrients to generate energy, and their metabolism, like ours, changes throughout life. Kivanç, a Rockefeller alumnus who moved from MIT last fall, is developing ways to exploit a cell’s metabolic processes to fight diseases such as cancer.
Paul Cohen is working to understand fat cells. A cardiologist, he is interested in the health problems that accompany obesity. Not all fat cells are the same, and Paul’s research suggests there may be ways to engineer healthier ones. He has a Ph.D. from Rockefeller and an M.D. from Weill Cornell Medicine, and did postdoctoral research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute before joining Rockefeller as assistant professor.