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Marc Tessier-Lavigne

Marc Tessier-Lavigne

Marc Tessier-Lavigne Executive Vice President: Research and Chief Scientific Officer

Profile | Education/Background | Top Scientific Papers | Awards & Honors

"I joined Genentech in 2003 as senior vice president, Research Drug Discovery, and in 2008 I was promoted to executive vice president. Following the Roche merger in 2009, I became executive vice president, Research, and chief scientific officer. As head of the Genentech research organization, I am responsible for directing all of our basic and disease research and drug discovery activities, and for ensuring a seamless transfer of our drug candidates to the clinical development organization. I also serve as a member of Genentech's Extended Executive Committee.

Over the course of my career, my initial interest in basic biological processes grew into an equally strong interest in disease processes and in the medical applications of basic science. I came to Genentech because of its deep commitment to innovative research that has the potential to create breakthrough therapies for unmet medical needs. Genentech also has a vibrant and exciting scientific culture that fosters intellectual freedom."

Current Projects "Much of our work has been on mechanisms of brain wiring and other basic problems in the developmental biology of tissue growth. Over the past several years, we have started to apply insights from these fields to the problem of brain rewiring and regeneration and, more recently, to neuronal degeneration in both embryonic development and in neurodegenerative disease.

We have the best of both the academic and the corporate worlds here: we have the satisfaction of working on the development of novel therapeutics while we continue to elucidate basic biological processes. A key aspect of the Genentech culture that enables this is our postdoc program. In addition to overseeing translational and drug discovery work, I have eight postdocs working on open-ended projects. Like a university, Genentech believes it's important to have a steady stream of young people who tackle fundamental problems in basic and translational biology and who are ready to challenge assumptions."

Inspiration/Vision "I like to grapple with complex biological problems and deconstruct their complexity. I feel the same way about disease as I felt about brain wiring when we started investigating it over 15 years ago: we can crack this. Not a week goes by that we don't derive some major new insight from research studies and clinical trials that give key insights into the biology of disease.

I feel privileged to be a biomedical researcher at this particular juncture in history. Science and medicine converged at the dawn of the 21st century, making it possible to tackle disease processes with the same tools and the same rigor we use to address basic problems in biology. For a biologist, this is truly the golden age of translational research and drug discovery."