Biochemistry investigator and physician-scientist appointed to key leadership roles for IU School of Medicine, IU Precision Health Grand Challenge

  • Aug. 21, 2017

Michael A. Weiss, MD, PhD, MBA, has been chosen to fill a dual role of chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and director of chemical biology and biotherapeutics for the Indiana University Precision Health Initiative.

Dr. Weiss comes to IU School of Medicine from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, where he has been chair of biochemistry, a distinguished research professor and the Cowan-Blum professor of cancer research. He leads research in two areas of molecular endocrinology: insulin signaling with application to diabetes mellitus and sex determination with application to genetic infertility syndromes.

He will fill a key leadership position for the Precision Health Initiative, in which multidisciplinary teams of innovative researchers address major health problems facing humanity. The initiative was granted $120 million as the first recipient of funding from IU’s Grand Challenges Program, announced in July 2016. Dr. Weiss’ recruitment was also supported through the Indiana Collaborative Initiative for Talent Enrichment (INCITE) grant from the Lilly Endowment, Inc.

“Recruiting top researchers and visionaries such as Dr. Weiss to Indiana is essential for the success of the Precision Health Initiative as it searches for innovative ways to customize therapies for individual patients,” said Jay L. Hess, MD, PhD, MHSA, dean of IU School of Medicine and IU vice president for university clinical affairs.

Anantha Shekhar, MD, PhD, IU associate vice president of research for university clinical affairs and IU School of Medicine executive associate dean for research affairs, said Dr. Weiss is uniquely qualified to lead “a center that will develop novel structural image technologies and new approaches to drug discovery.”

Said Dr. Weiss: “The Precision Health Initiative has the potential to be a world leader in the development of treatment and prevention strategies tailored to a patient’s genes, environment and lifestyle. I am thrilled at the opportunity to be part of this exciting endeavor.”

Dr. Weiss earned a medical degree from Harvard Medical School/MIT Program in Health Sciences & Technology. He also has an AB in physics and a PhD in biophysics from Harvard and attended Trinity College in Oxford, England, as a Harvard Sheldon Travelling Scholar. While teaching at Case Western Reserve, he took a sabbatical to study at the university’s Weatherhead School of Management, earning an MBA in 2010.

He has taught since 1999 at Case Western Reserve, where he was the founding director of the university’s Institute for Therapeutic Protein Design. From 1994 through August 1999, Dr. Weiss was a professor in the departments of biochemistry and molecular biology, and chemistry and medicine at the University of Chicago. He was also deputy director of the University of Chicago’s National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center.

In 2009, he founded Thermalin Diabetes, Inc., which designs and develops novel insulin analogs, and currently serves as its chief innovation officer.

Dr. Weiss is a member of the board of trustees of the Presidential Scholars Foundation, which supports alumni engagement and programs of the United States Presidential Scholars program established by President Lyndon B. Johnson to recognize outstanding graduating high school seniors from all 50 states; Washington, D.C.; and Puerto Rico. He is a past member of the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars.

Serving as a trustee of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Dr. Weiss chairs the Museum’s Health Advisory Committee. He is chair of the board of trustees of the Summer Science Program, an intensive national and international program for gifted high school students with two campuses in astronomy and one in biochemistry. Dr. Weiss is also a member of the tri-state regional leadership council for the American Diabetes Association (Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky).

Dr. Weiss will join IU on Dec. 15.

MIchael Weiss

Michael A. Weiss, MD, PhD, MBA

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Andrea Zeek