Studying these cells could lead to new treatments for diseases ranging from gastrointestinal disease to diabetes.
Three men and one woman with ties to MIT were among the 100 most influential people in the world last year, according to Time magazine.
"The Time 100: The 2004 Most Influential People in the World," which will appear on newsstands on Tuesday, April 19, cites Kofi Annan (S.M. 1972), secretary general of the United Nations and Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2001; Eric Lander, professor of biology at MIT and founding director of the Broad Institute; Carly Fiorina (S.M. 1989), former chairman and chief executive officer of Hewlett-Packard; and Frank Gehry, the visionary architect who designed MIT's Ray and Maria Stata Center for Computer, Information and Intelligence Sciences.
All four will be honored at a dinner party at the Time Warner Center in New York City on April 19.
The 2004 Time 100 profiles 84 men and 22 women who "shape world events," according to the editors. Some, like George W. Bush, "came to their status by means of a very public possession of power." Others, like Fidelity's Abigail Johnson, are "rarely heard from in public, but have a real influence on the great events of our time." Still others on the list "affect our lives by their moral example," such as Nelson Mandela, the Time editors note.
Annan, 67, one of 22 "Leaders and Revolutionaries" on the Time 100 list, became U.N. secretary general in 1997. The 2001 Nobel Committee described Annan's U.N. leadership as "pre-eminent in bringing new life to the organization," by emphasizing the U.N.'s obligations to protecting human rights; to meeting such new challenges as HIV/AIDS and international terrorism, and to efficient use of its resources. Among Annan's peers in world influence, according to Time, are Bill Gates and Pope John Paul II.
Lander, 48, is founding director of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and a popular professor of biology at MIT. A MacArthur "genius" award winner in 1987, he achieved world renown for his leadership role in the Human Genome Project, which completed sequencing of the human genome in 2003. Lander appears on the Time 100 list of "Scientists and Thinkers," which includes U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and Steven Pinker, former MIT professor of psychology. Tim Berners-Lee, CSAIL senior research scientist and inventor of the World Wide Web, was a 1999 Time honoree in this category.
Fiorina, 51, served as chairman and chief executive officer of Hewlett-Packard Co., from July 1999 to February 2005. A member of the MIT Corporation, Fiorina sits on the New York Stock Exchange and wields influence among such "Builders and Titans" as investment guru Warren Buffet, media mogul Rupert Murdoch and Apple CEO Steve Jobs, according to Time. Fiorina was the 2000 MIT commencement speaker.
Architect Gehry, 76, is the 1989 Pritzker Prize winner known worldwide for his adventurous, often controversial buildings such as the titanium-clad Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain. He joins producer Jerry Bruckheimer, actor Sean Penn and Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling on the influential "Artists and Entertainers" list for 2004.