Five Esteemed Professors at Einstein College of Medicine Receive Tenure

Dr. Eric E. Bouhassira, professor of cell biology and of medicine.

Aug 11, 2008 — Five faculty members at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have received tenure, a permanent teaching status that is granted to the most esteemed members of the institution’s teaching staff. The honor was announced by Allen M. Spiegel, MD, The Marilyn and Stanley M. Katz Dean of Einstein. President Richard M. Joel conferred tenure upon the five faculty members. They are:

• Eric E. Bouhassira, PhD, Professor, Cell Biology; Medicine
Dr. Bouhassira joined the faculty at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in 1990. He began studying human embryonic stem cells in 2001 and was the organizing force behind the three-year, $3 million grant for human embryonic stem cell r-research that Einstein received from the National Institutes of Health in 2005. He is director of the medical school’s Center for Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research and professor of medicine and of cell biology. Dr. Bouhassira’s research focuses on developing hematopoietic (blood forming) stem cells that can differentiate into red cells, T cells, platelets, and all other cell types that comprise blood. This work could potentially aid patients needing transfusions and also save lives by expanding the immunology diversity of hematopoietic stem cells available for transplant. Dr. Bouhassira received his BS, MS, and PhD degrees from the Université Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris,France. Dr. Bouhassira also holds the Ingeborg and Ira Rennert Chair in Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine.

• Aviv Bergman, PhD, Professor and Chairman, Systems and Computational Biology; Professor of Pathology; Neuroscience
Dr. Bergman is founding chair and professor of systems and computational biology at Einstein. Dr. Bergman combines computation, theoretical and experimental methodologies in research programs to answer fundamental questions in biology, ranging from the function of biological systems to understanding how life’s diversity evolves. For example, Dr. Bergman and his colleagues, using numerical simulations of complex gene networks, demonstrated a novel mechanism by which most, or perhaps all, genes reveal observable variation at the system level when their function is compromised. Dr. Bergman then applies these concepts to biomedical and clinical research. Dr. Bergman has teamed with Einstein colleagues leading a number of research efforts, including head and neck cancer, aging and immunology. Prior to joining the Einstein faculty, he was founder and co-director of the Center for Computational Genetics and Biological Modeling at Stanford University, where he previously had earned a PhD in biological sciences.

• Winfried Edelmann, PhD, Professor, Cell Biology
Dr. Edelmann, a member of the Einstein faculty since 1990, is professor of cell biology and director of the Gene Targeting Facility of the Albert Einstein Cancer Center. Dr. Edelmann is interested in the biological roles of mammalian genes that are associated with cancer predisposition syndromes. In order to study these genes, he employs molecular genetics and mouse genetics for the generation of mouse lines carrying mutations in these genes. His research is focused on the generation and analysis of mouse models of human cancer. He has made significant contributions to our understanding of the roles of DNA mismatch repair in human cancer predisposition. He also has served on several national committees, including the Steering Committee of the Mouse Models for Human Cancer Consortium of the National Cancer Institute, and the Steering Committee of the Comparative Mouse Genomics Centers Consortium of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. He received his undergraduate and graduate training at the University of Wurzberg, Germany.

• Streamson C. Chua, Jr., MD, PhD, Professor, Medicine; Neuroscience
Dr. Chua is a relative newcomer to the Einstein faculty. Before coming to Einstein in 2005, he was a member of the group of Dr. Jules Hirsch and Dr. Rudolph Leibel at the Rockefeller University, where he participated in efforts to understand the genetics of obesity. He then joined the faculty of Columbia-Presbyterian Medical School as an associate professor, continuing his work on the function of the hormone leptin that influences obesity and diabetes. Currently, he is pursuing research on genes that are linked to increased susceptibility to obesity and diabetic complications, particularly beta cell loss and nephropathy. Dr. Chua received his bachelor’s degree from Johns Hopkins University, and then earned a combined MD-PhD at Columbia University. He completed a one-year internship at New York Hospital and then undertook a post-doctoral fellowship in pediatric endocrinology to clone the gene for the steroid-producing enzyme, 11 beta hydroxylase.

• Jan Vijg, MD, PhD, Professor and Chairman, Genetics
Dr. Vijg was recently named professor and chairman of genetics at the College of Medicine and has also has been named the Lola and Saul Kramer Chair in Molecular Genetics. He comes to Einstein from the Buck Institute for Age Research, in Novato, California, where his studies focused on genome instability and the mechanisms through which this may cause human disease and aging. Among his first acts as chair, Dr. Vijg has changed the department’s name from “molecular genetics” to “genetics,” reflecting its original name when Einstein established the first Department of Genetics at any medical school in 1963. A native of The Netherlands, Dr. Vijg has gained distinction for his use of genetically engineered mice to investigate the impact of DNA damage on human disease and aging. One of his current projects, supported by the Ellison Medical Foundation, involves developing a mouse model for investigating a specific type of DNA damage in aging, called double-stranded breaks because both of the DNA “threads” are broken. This new model will allow scientists to measure the impact of this type of DNA damage on age-related ailments and functional decline. Dr. Vijg received his bachelor’s, masters and doctoral degrees from the State University of Leiden, in The Netherlands.

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