The Department of Molecular Biology (DMB), whose members are engaged in full-time basic scientific research, began as a unique and highly successful model of an academic-industrial partnership.
In keeping with the tradition of a strong commitment to basic research at the hospital, the establishment of the Department of Molecular Biology broadened the MGH research community to include a group of distinguished scientists engaged in basic research not related directly to specific problems in applied medical science. The presence of two modern Molecular Biology greenhouses for state-of-the-art research in the molecular genetics of plants, for example, serves as a constant reminder of MGH's commitment to basic science.
During its nearly three decades of history, the initial Hoechst agreement for the founding of the Department evolved from an all-inclusive funding model with no outside agency funding permitted to a general sponsorship agreement with all outside funding sources accepted. Today, the Department garners the great majority of its support from the federal government and private foundations.
The Department of Molecular Biology has a strong commitment to teaching at the Harvard Medical School, including significant involvement in the BBS, HST, Immunology and Neuroscience graduate programs. Dr. Kingston served as head of the BBS graduate program and curriculum. Dr. Oettinger is extensively involved in the Immunology Program. Dr. Kaplan has won the student award for Mentorship in the BBS program and Dr. Kingston has won the BBS teaching award.
The Department of Molecular Biology has also contributed to the strong record of the Department of Genetics in promoting the causes of women and minorities in science. Four of the DMB faculty are female, as are about half of the students and fellows. Through the efforts of Dr. Harry Orf, former Director of Laboratories, DMB has maintained a long relationship with the Timilty Middle School, a Boston public school with a high minority enrollment. With Harry’s encouragement, department fellows and students over the years have helped to foster the earliest perceptions of the scientific process in an impressionable and enthusiastic cohort of future scientists.
From the perspective of the faculty, students and staff, the Department affords them a unique opportunity to pursue basic research interests in a stable and strongly supportive academic research community in an outstanding laboratory facility.