After 14 years guiding the Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute (DOE JGI) from completing DOE’s contributions to the Human Genome Project to transitioning the Institute into a National User Facility enabling the science of thousands of researchers focused on energy and environmental problems, DOE JGI Director Eddy Rubin announced today that he will be stepping down later this year.
Once a successor is found and brought onboard, Rubin will move to a position as Chief Scientific Officer for San Francisco-based startup Metabiota, a big data analytics company focused on infectious diseases and epidemic risk.
“I started out my career in medicine. Now that the Institute is running on all its scientific cylinders as a state of the art DOE Office of Science Genomic User Facility, I plan to return to these roots and focus my attention on addressing an important problem in human health,” Rubin said.
After serving his residency at the University of California, San Francisco (USCF) and a genetic fellowship and faculty position there, Rubin moved from UCSF to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) in 1989, becoming a Senior Scientist in 1992 and Group Leader for Human Genome Biology in 1997. He took over as the DOE JGI Interim Director in 2002 and was appointed Director of the Institute and Director of the Berkeley Lab Genomics Division in January 2003.
“I feel that the JGI is now in an outstanding position to expand its leadership in energy and environmental genomics. Equipped with a compelling 10-Year Strategic Vision and a great group of senior staff, the DOE JGI is ready to take on the exciting new opportunities associated with our planned move to the Berkeley Lab main campus and into the new Integrative Genomics Building.”
Berkeley Lab Associate Laboratory Director Jay Keasling, said that Rubin’s leadership was essential in the DOE JGI being the first among the international consortium working on the Human Genome Project to complete its commitment—chromosomes 5, 16 and 19 corresponding to about 13% of the human genome—and describe their findings in a series of seminal publications in the journal Nature.
“Above and beyond Eddy’s stewardship of the DOE JGI in it becoming established as a next-generation genome science user facility for bioenergy and the environment—sequencing, analyzing and contributing thousands of plant, fungal, microbial, and metagenome projects to the public databases—he also drove the scientific vitality of the Institute.” Keasling said. “Eddy has made pioneering contributions in the development and application of computational tools for large-scale genomic studies that have ranged from deciphering the traces of DNA found in ancient Neanderthal bones to describing the machinery that the microbes in the cow rumen use to digest plant material.”
Rubin’s contributions, Keasling noted, also include the large number of scientists he mentored who are now in important faculty and leadership positions at universities and research institutions including Berkeley Lab.
“For me the greatest pleasure of the past 14 years at JGI has been the science and even more importantly being part of a large interdisciplinary team—in the tradition of Berkeley Lab—that all pulled in the same direction and moved exciting science forward,” Rubin said.
Update: On March 24, Berkeley Lab Associate Laboratory Director for Biosciences Jay Keasling announced that he has asked DOE JGI’s Axel Visel to serve as Interim Director effective immediately up to the time that the permanent JGI Director is on board. Visel has been at Berkeley Lab for 11 years during which he has run a successful genomic research program and is presently a Senior Scientist and the DOE JGI Deputy Director of Science Programs.
The position description for the DOE JGI Director position has been posted here.