Recorded: 09 Apr 2001
Jim cares. Jim cares about science. Jim cares about people. Jim wants things to be certain ways, and he will work hard to make them the way he thinks is right. So he has strong opinions: he has strong opinions about science, and strong opinions about people. And he expresses his opinions often in rather more straightforward ways than some people might. But I think its that he really does care. He really does have strong opinions and he is not bashful about expressing them and about doing things to try to bring to fruition matters that he thinks matter.
H. Robert Horvitz received his Ph.D. in 1974 from Harvard University, under the tutelage of Jim Watson. He joined the MIT Department of Biology faculty in 1978, and was named David Koch Professor of Biology in 2000. He is also Investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and was appointed Investigator at the McGovern Institute in 2001.
Horvitz is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and a recipient of the Gairdner Foundation International Award, the Alfred P. Sloan, Jr. Prize from the General Motors Cancer Research Foundation and the Bristol-Myers Squibb Award for Distinguished Achievement in Neuroscience. In 2002, he was award the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine with Sydney Brenner and John Sulston “for their discoveries concerning 'genetic regulation of organ development and programmed cell death'."
Horvitz currently studies how genes control the development of the nervous system and how the nervous system controls behavior. He has elucidated a molecular genetic pathway for programmed cell death (apoptosis), which is fundamental to nervous system development in all animals.