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H. Robert Horvitz, PhD

H. Robert Horvitz, PhD

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Class of 2013

Pioneering studies by Dr. Horvitz have made him one of the central figures in research concerning programmed cell death or apoptosis. He discovered that apoptosis is specified by particular genes and thus is a basic biologic process, much like cell division, cell migration, and cell differentiation. For this work and also for his studies of organ development (e.g., the EGF-RAS-MAPK and Notch pathways) in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, he was awarded the 2002 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

More generally, Dr. Horvitz has studied how genes control many aspects of animal development and behavior, revealing mechanisms shared among organisms as diverse as roundworms and humans and that are implicated in a variety of human diseases, including cancer. In collaborative studies, he also has identified genes involved in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a disease that killed his father in 1989.

Career Highlights

2009 Elected Foreign Member, Royal Society of London
2003 Elected Member, Institute of Medicine
2002 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
2002 American Cancer Society Medal of Honor
2001 Genetics Society of America Medal
2001 Bristol-Myers Squibb Award for Distinguished Achievement in Neuroscience
2000 March of Dimes Prize in Developmental Biology
2000 Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize, Columbia University
1999 Gairdner Foundation International Award
1998 Alfred P. Sloan Jr., Prize, General Motors Cancer Research Foundation
1998 Passano Foundation Award for the Advancement of Medical Science
1995 Charles A. Dana Award for Pioneering Achievements in Health and Education
1994 Hans Sigrist Foundation Prize, University of Bern, Switzerland
1991 Elected Member, National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC
1988 U.S. Steel Foundation Award in Molecular Biology
1974 PhD, Harvard University