Rudolf Jaenisch, a founding member of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research and professor of biology at MIT, received his 2011 Medal of Science from President Barack Obama on Friday, Oct. 21, during a ceremony at the White House. Jaenisch, who learned about the award on Sept. 27, joined 11 other recipients of the medals of science and of technology and innovation during the ceremony.
“I’m pleased to recognize these extraordinary scientists, engineers and inventors for their work exploring the very frontiers of human knowledge and making our world a better place,” Obama said. “It’s important to recognize that work, and to help make it easier for inventors and innovators like them to bring their work from the lab to the marketplace and create jobs.”
Jaenisch was cited specifically for his investigations into biological mechanisms that can affect the activity of genes in cells and organisms, including work that may provide the foundation for innovative new therapies for a wide range of diseases.
An MIT alumnus, Rakesh Agrawal ScD '80 — currently the Winthrop E. Stone Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering at Purdue University — also received his National Medal of Technology and Innovation on Friday. Agrawal was honored for his many innovations relating to liquefied gas production, which have resulted in significant energy- and cost-efficiencies and advanced the science of electronic-device manufacturing while enhancing the supply of industrial gases for a wide range of industries.