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Paul E. Tsongas has been elected chairman of the Board of Directors of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research.
The Whitehead Institute, founded in 1982, is a non-profit, independent basic research and teaching institution. It is affiliated with MIT in its teaching activities, but wholly responsible for its own finances and administration. Mr. Tsongas has served as a member of the Whitehead Board since 1987.
Dr. Gerald Fink, director of the Whitehead Institute and professor in the MIT Biology Department, says, "We are extremely pleased that Paul has agreed to assume leadership of our Board. He has a powerful grasp of the complex issues facing biomedical science today, from science funding to the education of tomorrow's leaders in science. His exemplary career in public service is an inspiration to all of us as we seek to apply our own skills to improve human health and welfare."
Research at the Whitehead Institute contributes to greater understanding of cancer, aging, heart disease, diabetes, tuberculosis, Alzheimer's disease, and AIDS, as well as basic mechanisms of growth and development. Recently, the Institute has received widespread recognition for creating a new type of cancer vaccine; cloning the human Y chromosome; developing new strategies for gene therapy; solving a long-standing mystery about flu virus; and producing new AIDS vaccine candidates.
"The thing that's most remarkable about the Institute is the incredible sense of excitement people have about their work," Mr. Tsongas says. "The faculty and graduate students are clearly intrigued by the intellectual content of their research, but they never lose sight of the potential benefits in human terms. It's a wonderful environment."
As chairman of the Whitehead Board, Mr. Tsongas will replace Dr. John Sawhill, president of the Nature Conservancy, who has led the Board since its inception and played a key role in the formation of the Institute. Dr. Sawhill will remain a member of the Board.
The new vice-chairman of the Whitehead Board is Susan Whitehead, a Boston attorney and daughter of Edwin C. (Jack) Whitehead, founder of the Whitehead Institute. Ms. Whitehead lives in Wellesley, Massachusetts, with her husband Mitchel Sayare, chairman and CEO of ImmunoGen, Inc., and their two children, Scott and Katie.
Mr. Tsongas is a partner in the Boston law firm Foley, Hoag & Eliot. His practice concentrates on business matters and on public/private issues facing clients. Mr. Tsongas first joined Foley, Hoag & Eliot as a partner in 1985 after serving a term as United States Senator from Massachusetts. In 1989, he was appointed by the Governor as Chairman of the Massachusetts Board of Regents of Higher Education. After two years in that position, he resigned to campaign for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States.
In announcing his presidential candidacy in March 1991, Mr. Tsongas outlined a detailed plan to rebuild America's economy. Today, his theme that America must make hard chocies to continue to be a great country is being carried on by a foundation he established with former Senator Warren Rudman called the Concord Coalition.
Other elective offices held by Mr. Tsongas include US Representative for the Fifth District of Massachusetts, Middlesex County Commissioner, and Lowell City Councillor. He also has served on the boards of several other not-for-profit institutions, including Yale University, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, the Recycling Advisory Council, and the International Institute for Energy Conservation.
A version of this article appeared in the June 16, 1993 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 37, Number 36).