Leading Biochemist Begins Term as President of Federation
Robert D. Wells, Ph.D., became the 88th President of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) on July 1. Dr. Wells is the Director of the Center for Genome Research at the Institute of Biosciences and Technology, Texas A&M University System Health Science Center. With his institute located in the Texas Medical Center in Houston, he is the Robert A. Welch Endowed Professor of Chemistry for that institution and holds a full professorship at The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston and an Adjunct Professorship in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. Most recently, Wells was the President of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology a FASEB Member Society. He is also a member of another FASEB Member Society, The American Society of Human Genetics.
Wells’ experience as a society president, along with his connection to the physical sciences, gives him a unique perspective on the Federation and its relations with the broader research community. Wells believes that these partnerships are critical to the Federation’s efforts to increase National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation funding.
“Funding for these two agencies must be our top priority. If we are not successful in the appropriations arena, the rest of our advocacy agenda will be compromised,” he stated.
Wells was the founding Director of the Institute of Biosciences and Technology in Houston (1990-1994). Concurrently, he served as Head of the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. Previously, he was Chairman and Professor of the Department of Biochemistry in the Schools of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Alabama at Birmingham for a ten-year period. From 1966-1981, Dr. Wells was Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the Department of Biochemistry. Wells participated in solving the genetic code (1964-66); his postdoctoral mentor, Dr. H. Gobind Khorana, received the Nobel Prize in 1968 for these discoveries. He served a one-year sabbatical leave of absence on a Guggenheim fellowship at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and the University of California-San Diego in the mid 1970’s, where he studied cancer viruses (polyoma).
The Texas A&M University System Health Science Center provides the state with health education, outreach and research. Its five components located in communities throughout Texas are Baylor College of Dentistry, the College of Medicine, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, the Institute of Biosciences and Technology and the School of Rural Public Health.