Professor Emeritus Irwin W. Sizer and Helen Sizer, his wife, were honored by MIT last week for their gift which has established a career development professorship in the Department of Biology, which Dr. Sizer headed for many years. The chair has been named for them.
The current department head, Phillip A. Sharp, the Salvador E. Luria Professor of Biology, announced that the inaugural holder of the Irwin and Helen Sizer Department of Biology Career Development Professorship will be Assistant Professor Jacqueline A. Lees, whose work at the Center for Cancer Research involves control of cell growth and proliferation.
Professor Sizer, who also is a former dean of the Graduate School and was instrumental in establishing Whitaker College, had a major role in the evolution of the Department of Biology from a classical program to the modern molecular biology program that it is today.
As department head, Professor Sizer helped recruit many of the department's present senior faculty, including Vernon M. Ingram; Alexander Rich, the William Thompson Sedgwick Professor of Biophysics and recent winner of the Medal of Science; the late Salvador Luria, a Nobel laureate; Boris Magasanik, and Maurice S. Fox, as well as the late Salvador Luria, a Nobel laureate.
MIT President Charles M. Vest, speaking for the Institute, thanked the Sizers for their gift and stressed the importance of support for talented young faculty members like Professor Lees.
Professor Lees, who joined MIT in 1994, received the BSc degree (1986) from the University of York and the PhD (1990) from the University of London, both in biochemistry. She did postdoctoral work in molecular biology at Massachusetts General Hospital before coming to MIT. Her research involves a protein encoded by a tumor suppresser gene which controls cell proliferation in many cells. Her work connecting the action of cell-cycle regulation to the turning on and off of specific genes is of great importance in understanding the control of the cell cycle and the loss of that control in the absence of the protein, as occurs in tumors.
Dr. Vest and Professor Sharp presented a special certificate to the Sizers, who also received miniature MIT chairs as mementos.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on May 1, 1996.