Monday, August 07, 2006

Nobel Laureate Tonegawa at MIT Stirred Up Controversy

Trying to get a job? Dr. Alla Karpova seriously wanted to start her career and research program at MIT. However, Dr. Susumu Tonegawa, Nobel-famed and Biology Professor who studies the molecular, cellular, and neuronal mechanisms of hippocampus-dependent (brain) memory, has been described as a strong leader who has shown fierce competition in the science world, which others say may be harmful to the university in advancing science and recruiting the best, young talent, and women. The major accusation: He sabotaged Karpova's appointment at MIT. She got an offer from MIT's McGovern Institute for Brain Research as an assistant professor position. But, he sent emails to her and colleagues about so-called problems she would face if she came to MIT, and problems about the uneasy atmosphere between the interdisciplinary institutes at MIT (McGovern, Biology, and Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, which Tonegawa heads.) Furthermore, Karpova wanted Tonegawa to serve as mentor and collaborator in research--something that MIT tries to support in their efforts to expand interdisciplinary and collaborative research. Tonegawa declined. So, Karpova took a job in Virginia at a new Howard Hughs Medical Institute. And, MIT is now investigating their recruiting process.

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