Indian-Origin Biologist Named Dean of Vanderbilt University's School of Medicine

Structural biologist John Kuriyan will assume his new role at the Vanderbilt University in Tennessee in 2023.

Indian Diaspora
2 min read
Indian-Origin Biologist Named Dean of Vanderbilt University's School of Medicine

Vanderbilt University has named Indian American structural biologist John Kuriyan as its Dean of the School of Medicine Basic Sciences, according to a university press release.

Kuriyan will begin his new role on 1 January 2023, succeeding Lawrence J Marnett, the Founding Dean of Basic Sciences. Vanderbilt University is located in Nashville, Tennessee, in the United States.

Over the last 30 years, Kuriyan has been recognised as a Distinguished Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology and Professor of Chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley. He has also fulfilled the role of an investigator with Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

"The opportunity to come to Vanderbilt and join the leadership of one of the nation's best schools for cutting-edge biomedical research is a tremendous honour and privilege."
John Kuriyan

Kuriyan is also a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine, in addition to being a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is also a foreign member of the Royal Society, which is the independent scientific academy of the United Kingdom.

Apart from his academic accolades, Kuriyan is known for being a co-founder of Nurix Therapeutics, which is a publicly-traded biotech company. Nurix specialises in developing and testing therapies for late-stage cancers in the clinic.


Born in India, Kuriyan studied for two years at the University of Madras before joining the Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. After completing his Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from Juniata College in 1981, he went on to earn a doctorate in physical chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1986.

His graduate advisers were distinguished scientists Martin Karplus and Gregory A Petski, who were also his mentors during his postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University. Karplus is a 2013 Nobel Prize winner in chemistry.

"As a superlative and highly accomplished biomedical scholar, Kuriyan fully understands Vanderbilt's university-wide ambitions to catapult our research reputation forward. That he has chosen to advance his career at Vanderbilt speaks volumes about our capacity to make quantum leaps in the life-changing innovation for which he is known."
C Cybele Raver, Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Vanderbilt University

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