“From a pool of extraordinarily accomplished candidates, Nipam distinguished himself as particularly passionate about MBL’s rich history and even more so about its promising future,” said David Fithian, executive vice president of the University of Chicago, MBL trustee and co-chair of the search advisory committee. “He will be a compelling spokesperson for and determined leader of the MBL’s next chapter.”
“It is an incredible honor to have the opportunity to lead the MBL, an institution that has had a remarkable influence on my own career through the teaching and research opportunities it has provided me over almost 20 years,” Patel said. “I am excited to build upon the MBL’s extraordinary history to elevate it to even greater prominence, and to partner with the University of Chicago in this endeavor. I look forward to working with all the dedicated MBL scientists and staff, as well as all those who come to visit and share in the magic of the MBL.”
Patel grew up in El Paso, Texas and received a bachelor’s degree in biology from Princeton University and a PhD in biological sciences from Stanford University. He joined the University of California, Berkeley in 2003, where he has held the Schubert Endowed Chair, and serves as faculty curator at the Essig Museum of Entomology. Patel has served as an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and an adjunct professor at the National Institute of Genetics in Shizuoka, Japan. He began his career as a staff associate in the Department of Embryology at the Carnegie Institution in Baltimore, Maryland.
Patel is the editor of the journal Development and serves on the editorial boards of eLife, EvoDevo, Developmental Biology, Development Genes and Evolution and Evolution and Development. He is an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and has served on numerous advisory boards, including the board of directors of the Society for Developmental Biology.
Patel is a member of the MBL Education Committee, which provides strategic planning for more than 20 advanced research training courses and other educational programs at the MBL, including collaborative initiatives with UChicago.
Patel succeeds interim MBL co-directors Melina Hale, the William Rainey Harper Professor in the Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy and in the College, and vice provost for academic initiatives at UChicago; and Neil Shubin, the Robert R. Bensley Professor in the Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy at UChicago.
The MBL in Woods Hole, Massachusetts is a leading international center for investigation in the biological and ecological sciences. Founded in 1888, the laboratory convenes scientists from institutions around the world to collaborate in its resident and visiting research centers and to teach in its education division. UChicago and the MBL formed an affiliation in 2013.
The selection of the new director by President Robert J. Zimmer was informed by a search advisory committee, which Fithian co-chaired along with Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado, an investigator at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research.