Michael Gottesman, M.D.
Dr. Michael Gottesman was appointed NIH deputy director for intramural research (DDIR) in November 1994. He had been acting DDIR for the previous year and was acting director of the National Center for Human Genome Research from 1992 to 1993. A well-known and respected basic cancer researcher who has focused on multidrug resistance in human cancer cells, Michael continues his role as chief of NCI’s Laboratory of Cell Biology.
As DDIR, Michael coordinates activities and facilitates cooperation among the 24 Institute- and Center-based Scientific Directors to achieve the scientific, training, and public health missions of the NIH Intramural Research Program. Michael provides guidance for the entire intramural program and reports to NIH Director Francis Collins. Michael oversees and ultimately approves the hiring of all NIH principal investigators, and he is the institutional official responsible for human subjects research protections, research integrity, technology transfer, and animal care and use at the NIH.
During his tenure as DDIR, Michael has created the post-baccalaureate training program, the Graduate Partnerships Program (which permits graduate students to conduct thesis research at NIH); implemented loan repayment programs; institutionalized an intramural tenure track and new career tracks for clinical investigators; created the NIH Intramural Database (providing online information about all researchers and research at NIH); and spearheaded multiple other programs in the realm of diversity, equity, research integrity, and leadership.
Michael came to NIH in 1971 as a research associate in the National Institute of Arthritis, Metabolism, and Digestive Diseases (now NIDDK), where he worked for three years. He spent a year as an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and joined the permanent staff of NCI in 1976. He became chief of the molecular cell genetics section in the NCI Laboratory of Molecular Biology in 1980 and chief of the NCI’s Laboratory of Cell Biology in 1990.
Michael’s research interests have ranged from how DNA is replicated in bacteria to how cancer cells elude chemotherapy. Collaborating with Dr. Ira Pastan, chief of NCI’s Laboratory of Molecular Biology, and others, Michael identified the human gene responsible for resistance of cancer cells to many of the most common anticancer drugs and showed that this gene encodes a protein that acts to pump anticancer drugs out of drug-resistant human cancers. This evidence supports the proposal, now widely accepted, that P-glycoprotein (P-gp), the product of the MDR1 gene, is an energy-dependent pump, ferrying toxins or drugs out of the cell. His recent work has defined the complexity of multidrug resistance in cancer.
Michael’s research has earned him many awards. He was elected a fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1988, to the National Academy of Medicine (formerly called Institute of Medicine) in 2003, to the Association of American Physicians in 2006, to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2010, and to the National Academy of Sciences in 2018. He received the Public Health Service Commendation, Outstanding Service and Distinguished Service awards, the NIH Director’s award in 2002, and the HHS Secretary’s Award for Distinguished Service in 2005.
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