Marc Tessier-Lavigne, president of Stanford University since 2016, was born in Canada. He received degrees in physics from McGill University and in philosophy and physiology from Oxford University. He earned a PhD in physiology from University College London (UCL). Tessier-Lavigne’s research has focused on the cause and treatment of degenerative brain diseases. He and his colleagues revealed how neural circuits in the brain form during embryonic development by identifying molecules that direct the formation of connections among nerve cells. His contributions have been recognized by numerous prizes and honors, including his election as a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, and the American Philosophical Society and as a fellow of the Royal Society (UK), the Royal Society of Canada, the Academy of Medical Sciences (UK), the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
He has held faculty positions at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and at Stanford where from 2001 to 2005 he was a professor of biological sciences and held the Susan B. Ford Professorship. In 2003 Tessier-Lavigne was recruited to biotechnology company Genentech, where he served as executive vice president for research and chief scientific officer, directing 1,400 scientists in disease research and drug discovery for cancer, immune disorders, infectious diseases, and neurodegenerative diseases, while maintaining an active research laboratory. In 2011, he became president of The Rockefeller University, a leading biomedical research university in New York City, before returning to the West Coast and rejoining Stanford.