Marc Trevor Tessier-Lavigne (born c. 1960) is a neuroscientist who is president of The Rockefeller University in New York City. He was formerly executive vice president for research and the chief scientific officer at Genentech. Tessier-Lavigne succeeded Nobel laureate Paul Nurse. He is the first industry executive to assume the Rockefeller presidency. He is also a member of the Cure Alzheimer's Fund's Scientific Advisory Board.
Tessier-Lavigne was born in Trenton, Ontario. He grew up in Europe from ages 7 to 17, where his father was serving with NATO as part of the Canadian Armed Forces. He earned his first undergraduate degree from McGill University, where he majored in Physics and attended the University of Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship, where he "first encountered the nervous system and fell in love with it" and earned a B.A. in Philosophy and Physiology. Tessier-Lavigne was awarded a doctorate in physiology from University College London. He was hired by Genentech in 2003 as its senior vice president, Research Drug Discovery, after teaching at the University of California, San Francisco from 1991 to 2001 and at Stanford University starting in 2001. He cited the firm's "potential to create breakthrough therapies for unmet medical needs" as his reason for leaving academia. His research on the development of the brain has uncovered details of how Alzheimer's disease is triggered.
Rockefeller University announced in September 2010 that Tessier-Lavigne would assume the post as its 10th president in March 2011, succeeding Paul Nurse, who will return to Britain to take over as president of the Royal Society. Rockefeller University called Tessier-Lavigne, who supervises a team of 1,400 researchers, the "Board's unanimous first choice for the position". He would be the first high-ranking science employee to leave Genentech following its acquisition by Roche in March 2009. The departure of Tessier-Lavigne from Genetech raised concerns that the company — described by The New York Times as being "among the most innovative and successful biotechnology companies in the world" — would see a negative effect on the firm's scientific culture. Tessier-Lavigne stated that his choice to leave Genentech was unrelated to the Roche merger and that "this is probably the only job that could have lured me away from Genentech." Russell L. Carson, chairman of the board of trustees at Rockefeller University said that he had "literally called him cold" to offer him the position and that Tessier-Lavigne had the strong scientific background needed to oversee the 70 independent laboratories that operate within the university and whose heads report directly to the president. Richard Scheller, Tessier-Lavigne's superior, called the move "part of the tradition of exchange between academia and Genentech." While it was too early to discuss specific goals, Tessier-Lavigne said that he hoped to work on transforming basic science into treatments for disease.
- Honorary degree, University of Pavia, 2006.
- Tessier-Lavigne has been also elected a member of the United States the National Academy of Sciences and its Institute of Medicine and as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, a fellow of the Royal Society and the Academy of Medical Sciences in the United Kingdom, and an honorary fellow of New College, Oxford.
- Pollock, Andrew. "Genentech Scientist to Lead Rockefeller University", The New York Times, September 8, 2010. Accessed September 13, 2010.
- McIlroy, Ann. "Noted Canadian scientist to take helm of Rockefeller University", The Globe and Mail, September 10, 2010. Accessed September 13, 2010.
- Staff. "Rockefeller University Elects Marc Tessier-Lavigne 10th President", Rockefeller University press release dated September 9, 2010.
- Marc Tessier-Lavigne - Executive Vice President: Research and Chief Scientific Officer, Genentech. Accessed September 13, 2010.
- "Marc Tessier-Lavigne Rockefeller University Faculty Page".