Circadian rhythm nation

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Circadian rhythm nation

Outgoing University of Virginia Vice President and Provost Gene D. Block emphasized the importance of science faculty recruitment in an April 12 presentation to the Board of Visitors’ Special Commission on Planning. Last month’s recommendations will be some of the last for Block in Charlottesville; he will begin work as chancellor at UCLA by August 1.


The clock may be ticking for outgoing provost and man of science, Gene Block, but he tells BOV to keep time with science-faculty recruiting.

Block’s suggestions reiterate the aims of a $126 million BOV initiative intended to improve the University’s science and technology research programs. The hiring of new senior scientists is expected to have the largest progressive impact of any possible action. In a September 2006 press release, Block said augmenting UVA’s science faculty would serve “as a catalyst for recruiting and retaining outstanding younger faculty members and graduate students.”

Increasing faculty resources will also increase the number of small classes offered at the University, facilitate improved student advising and allow more extensive scientific research—developments that should boost UVA’s national rankings.

One hundred seventy-five names have been submitted for science positions, and several key appointments are already underway. Steven Rich and John Yates, Jr. were named to the science faculty in September, and Dr. Joseph Takahashi announced last month that he would join the ranks as well. Takahashi has taught at Northwestern University for the past 24 years.

In Charlottesville Takahashi will head a new Center for Circadian and Systems Biology, an area of research close to the heart of Gene Block himself, whose most recent research deals with the aging processes of brain cells that form the biological clock. (For all you non-scientists out there, biological clocks generate circadian rhythms.) Though his work is about as pure-science as it gets, there does seem to be an economics experiment embedded in all this moving and shaking, including Takahashi’s appointment: How much does it cost to convince U.S. News & World Report that UVA is as good as it gets, and will $126 million cover it?

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