Bruce Alberts

Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics, UC/San Francisco; Past President, National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C.

Bruce Alberts, a respected biochemist with a strong commitment to the improvement of science and mathematics education, is a member of the faculty of the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco. Alberts returned to the university in 2005 after serving two six-year terms as the president of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). During his tenure at the NAS, Alberts was instrumental in developing the landmark National Science Education standards that have been implemented in school systems nationwide. He initiated the Academy's Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science, a book that aims to help US science teachers improve the teaching of fundamental principles of biology. As president of the NAS, Alberts also served as chair of the National Research Council, an operating arm of the National Academies that conducts independent science, engineering, and health policy studies. For the period 2000 to 2009, he serves as the co-chair of the Inter Academy Council, a new organization in Amsterdam governed by the presidents of 15 national academies of sciences and established to provide scientific advice to the world.

Bruce Alberts achieved fame as a biochemist from his research and creative activities while on the faculties at Princeton University (from 1966 to 1976) and at the University of California at San Francisco (from 1976 until he assumed the presidency of the NAS). He is known for his discovery of proteins that serve as essential chaperones to single-stranded DNA intermediates during processes of replication, recombination and repair. He also helped greatly to clarify the dilemma of how the two opposing strands of double helical DNA are coordinately replicated by enzymes that can build DNA strands in only one direction with his trombone model for the process. To the wider world of biologists and chemists he is well known from being the lead author of The Molecular Biology of the Cell, which has been the dominant textbook in its field for two decades.

Alberts has earned many honors and awards, including 14 honorary degrees. He currently serves on the advisory boards of nearly 20 non-profit institutions. He is an Overseer at Harvard University, a Trustee of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, a Trustee of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and the president-elect of the American Society of Cell Biology. He also played a very important part in the initiative to sequence the DNA of the human genome by serving as the chair of the National Research Council Committee on Mapping and Sequencing the Human Genome and as a member of the Program Advisory Committee for the NIH Human Genome Project.

Alberts received his undergraduate degree from Harvard College and a Ph.D. from Harvard University.