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Elizabeth Cooney is a health reporter for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
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Karen Weintraub, Deputy Health and Science Editor, and Gideon Gil, Health and Science Editor.
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Monday, June 4, 2007
Harvard bioinformatics team leaving for Houston
A leading scientist who directed research programs at Harvard Medical School and at Brigham and Womenís Hospital is leaving Boston and taking about 20 researchers with him to develop a bioinformatics program in Houston.
Stephen Wong (left) is leaving his posts as director of the Center for Bioinformatics in the Harvard Center for Neurodegeneration and Repair at Harvard Medical School and executive director of the Functional and Molecular Imaging Center at Brigham and Womenís. He has been an associate professor of radiology at Harvard Medical School and part of the neuro-oncology and cancer imaging programs at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
"This was not an easy decision to make. I think Harvard is wonderful," Wong said in an interview today. "I do think the opportunity in Houston is big. Itís a fantastic opportunity to be in on the infrastructure."
Wong said he was drawn to Methodist by Dr. King Li, with whom he had worked on molecular imaging. Li was the chief of diagnostic radiology at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center before becoming chair of radiology at Methodist last year.
At Methodist, Wong will build a program to use information that comes from imaging and other biomedical technologies to devise diagnostic tests and treatments. He said he envisions a sort of human GPS system for interventional medicine, in which imaging guides individualized treatments.
"Steveís a very talented Ph.D. scientist," he said. "As disappointed as we are to lose him, itís a very exciting opportunity for Steve and for them."
Seltzer said the number of people transferring with Wong is "on the large side," calling it a testament to the resources Methodist has been able to put together. He said all but one of the Brigham people leaving with Wong are graduate students or postdoctoral fellows. Wong said the total number of people moving south with him is about 20. He will also take with him $4 million in NIH grants.
"Our backfill strategy is that talented folks are still here and some will be promoted into positions of new responsibility," Seltzer said. "We will in turn be looking at graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. We have the richness of the intellectual capital in the Boston area."
Wong said he will maintain the collaborations he has with 25 different labs in Boston.
"Science has no boundaries, so physical location doesnít matter," he said.