EAC Focus - Jill P. Mesirov

Associate Director, Whitehead/Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Center for Genome Research, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Jill P. Mesirov is responsible for the informatics, computational science, and research computing program at the Whitehead/MIT Center for Genome Research. She is also adjunct professor of computer science at Boston University. Mesirov has spent many years working in the area of high-performance computing and developing parallel algorithms relevant to problems that arise in science, engineering, and business applications. Her current research interest is in the study and development of algorithms for computational biology in such areas as molecular pattern recognition, DNA and protein sequence homology searching, protein secondary structure prediction and classification, molecular dynamics, and inverse protein folding.

"Molecular biology and genomics are areas where computation is poised to make tremendous impact," says Mesirov. "We are using sophisticated data mining and analytic techniques to classify tumors and predict therapeutic outcomes. I'm very excited about the work we are doing here at the Whitehead Institute and its implications for the future of healthcare."

Mesirov received her B.A. in mathematics from the University of Pennsylvania in 1970 and her M.A. and Ph.D. in mathematics from Brandeis University in 1971 and 1974. She began her career as a mathematics instructor and researcher at the University of California at Berkeley before joining the Institute for Defense Analyses in 1976 as a research mathematician. There, she conducted work in cryptology and speech and designed and implemented efficient computer algorithms. She was associate executive director of the American Mathematical Society from 1982 to 1985, where she was involved in fundraising activities, government contracts, and the development of new computer systems. Mesirov served as executive director of the 1986 International Congress of Mathematics from 1983 to 1987.

In 1985, Mesirov became director of research, senior scientist at Thinking Machines Corporation, a leading manufacturer of high-performance parallel computers. She managed a team of research professionals using parallel computing technology to solve problems in science, engineering, and business. She also evaluated hardware and software products in application contexts and recommended improvements. Mesirov joined the International Business Machines Corporation in 1995 as manager of Computational Biology and Bioinformatics in the Healthcare/Pharmaceutical Solutions Organization, developing and executing market strategy for the bioinformatics and computational biology segments. She has been associate director of the Whitehead/MIT Center for Genome Research since 1997.

Mesirov is an active member of numerous professional societies and committees. She is a member of the Biology and Environmental Research Advisory Committee of the U.S. Department of Energy and a trustee of the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in Berkeley, California. She has also served as president of the Assocation for Women in Mathematics, trustee of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, and chair of the Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences. Her honors and awards include being named Woodrow Wilson Fellow in 1970 and fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1995. She serves on several advisory boards and as an editor on journals in computational science and applied mathematics. She has authored or co-authored more than 40 journal articles and technical reports.

Mesirov has been a member of the CRPC External Advisory Committee (EAC) since 1994. Of her experience with the CRPC, she says, "I've enjoyed working with the EAC, watching the field of high-performance computing mature over the years, and noting the CRPC's important research contributions to the field."

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