Marc Tessier-Lavigne

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Marc Tessier-Lavigne
11th President of Stanford University
Assumed office
Preceded by John L. Hennessy
President of Rockefeller University
In office
Preceded by Paul Nurse
Succeeded by Richard P. Lifton
Personal details
Born (1959-12-18) December 18, 1959 (age 57)
Trenton, Ontario
Alma mater McGill University
Oxford University
University College London
Profession Neuroscientist
Website Stanford Office of the President

Marc Trevor Tessier-Lavigne FRS FRSC FMedSci (born December 18, 1959) is a Canadian neuroscientist who is the 11th president of Stanford University.[1] Previously, he was president of Rockefeller University in New York City. He was formerly executive vice president for research and the chief scientific officer at Genentech. He was the first industry executive to assume the Rockefeller presidency.[2] He is also a member of the Cure Alzheimer's Fund's Scientific Advisory Board.

Early life[edit]

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.[3] 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.[2][4] Tessier-Lavigne was awarded a doctorate in physiology from University College London with David Attwell. He did his postdoctoral work at Columbia University with Thomas Jessell.


Tessier-Lavigne started his career at the University of California, San Francisco from 1991 to 2001 and at Stanford University starting in 2001. He was hired by Genentech in 2003 as its senior vice president, Research Drug Discovery. He cited the firm's "potential to create breakthrough therapies for unmet medical needs" as his reason for leaving academia.[2][5] His research on the development of the brain has uncovered details of how Alzheimer's disease is triggered.[2]

In 2011 Tessier-Lavigne joined Rockefeller University as its 10th president, succeeding Paul Nurse, who returned to Britain to take over as president of the Royal Society.[2] Rockefeller University called Tessier-Lavigne, who supervises a team of 1,400 researchers, the "Board's unanimous first choice for the position".[4] 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 Genentech 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."[2] 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.[2]

On February 4, 2016, Stanford University announced that Tessier-Lavigne would become Stanford's 11th president, succeeding John L. Hennessy. [6]


Personal life[edit]

Marc met his wife Mary Hynes as postdocs at Columbia. They have three children, Christian, Kyle, and Ella.[8]


  1. ^ Staff. "Neuroscience pioneer Marc Tessier-Lavigne named Stanford's next president", Stanford University press release dated February 4, 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Pollock, Andrew. "Genentech Scientist to Lead Rockefeller University", The New York Times, September 8, 2010. Accessed September 13, 2010.
  3. ^ McIlroy, Ann. "Noted Canadian scientist to take helm of Rockefeller University", The Globe and Mail, September 10, 2010. Accessed September 13, 2010.
  4. ^ a b c Staff. "Rockefeller University Elects Marc Tessier-Lavigne 10th President", Rockefeller University press release dated September 9, 2010.
  5. ^ Marc Tessier-Lavigne - Executive Vice President: Research and Chief Scientific Officer, Genentech. Accessed September 13, 2010.
  6. ^ Staff. [1]
  7. ^ "Marc Tessier-Lavigne Rockefeller University Faculty Page". 
  8. ^ Cool, Kevin (September 2016). "A Leader in Full". (September/October 2016). Stanford Magazine. Retrieved 4 September 2016.