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Bringing the Biotech

Marc Tessier-Lavigne is to bring his biotech know-how with him as he becomes the next president of Stanford University, the New York Times reports. He is to succeed John Hennessy, who is stepping down in the fall after 16 years at the post.

Currently, Tessier-Lavigne heads up Rockefeller University where the Times notes he is known for his fund-raising ability and for his research into brain development and neurodegenerative brain disease.

According to Stanford, Tessier-Lavigne previously was a professor there, though he spent a bit of his time there on leave as he joined Genentech. While at Genentech, the Times says, he oversaw some 1,400 scientists.

Tessier-Lavigne has also been involved in a number of startup companies, including Denali Therapeutics, which focuses on developing drugs for Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative diseases, and Renovis, a neuroscience startup that has since been acquired. He is also on the board of Juno Therapeutics and has been involved in the development of the New York Genome Center.

"I look forward to rejoining the Stanford family next summer," Tessier-Lavigne says in a statement. "In coming months, I plan to listen and learn from faculty, students, staff, trustees and alumni, to understand more fully the many opportunities and challenges facing the university."

While he declined to tell the Times what his first priorities would be as Stanford's president, he says that "[w]e do have to ensure access, broadly, both in terms of access for people who are disadvantaged socioeconomically and, of course, diversity." 

Tessier-Lavigne also tells the Times that he will review his current industry ties for conflicts of interest before re-joining Stanford.