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Rutgers recruits top researcher to head Center for Integrative Proteomics Research

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Dr. Stephen K. Burley
Dr. Stephen K. Burley - (Courtesy of Rutgers University)

In the first major academic appointment made by Rutgers University since the school's boards approved integrating with UMDNJ the school recruited a top health care researcher to bolster the school's health care portfolio.

Dr. Stephen K. Burley was approved on Friday to become the director of the Rutgers’ Center for Integrative Proteomics Research, the parent center for the world-renowned Research Collaboratory for Structural Bioinformatics Protein Data Bank.

Kenneth Breslauer, vice president of health science partnerships, said the combination of Burley’s research renown,  private business experience and passion for education is a coup for Rutgers, and will help the school recruit top researchers, staff and students.

“If you had to sit down and ask me to design what we needed at this point and time to take us to the next level and to engage us with the private sector in fruitful ways, I would have designed Burley, but I would have said no one person existed like that,” Breslauer said.

Breslauer said he’s been working on bringing Burley to Rutgers for more than a year, but not until the approval of the merger with the medical school did the Rhodes Scholar consider the position.

Burley, whose work revolves around oncology and structural biology, is an MD and PhD,  his medical degree from the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology program and his doctoral degree in molecular biophysics from Oxford University as part of the Rhodes program.

Breslauer said Burley has taken his own research and translated it into the private sector. Burley founded Prospect Genomic Inc., which was eventually acquired by Eli Lilly and Co. in 2008, where Burley has spent the previous four years as a distinguished research scholar. He has also served as a researcher and professor at Rockefeller University, where he was selected to become a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.

“He’s returning to academia to do more of the same, building bridges between the private sector and university research and development,” Breslauer said. “He’ll understand it better than any of us who think about it abstractly.”

Breslauer said Burley has expressed his interest in actively participating in the integration of UMDNJ assets into the “New Rutgers,” and work in the transformation of medical education in New Jersey. Burley will also oversee the filling of several positions, where Breslauer hopes the researcher can leverage his name in bringing the best to the school.

Helen M. Berman, the interim director of the Center for Integrative Proteomics Research and creator of the RCSB Protein Data Bank, was a strong advocate for Burley to come to Rutgers, and will work over the next five years to transition Burley to director of “her child,” as Breslauer said. Burley has chaired the external advisory board of the data bank in the past.

Burley will join Rutgers as a Professor 2 in the chemistry department of Rutgers, as well as the director of the research center and as an associate dean of the Cancer Institute of New Jersey. He will receive a base salary of $265,000 and an additional $110,000 for his other responsibilities.

Write to the Editorial Department at editorial@njbiz.com

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