John Burris

John E. Burris to Head the Burroughs Wellcome Fund
John Burris, president of the Burroughs Wellcome Fund

March 6, 2008

John E. Burris, Ph.D., will become president of the Burroughs Wellcome Fund effective July 1, 2008, as announced by Phil Gold, chair of BWF’s Board of Directors. He leaves his post as president of Beloit College in Wisconsin.

Dr. Burris will succeed Enriqueta (Queta) Bond, Ph.D. and become BWF’s second full time president. Dr. Bond announced last July that she planned to retire after serving as BWF’s president since 1994 when it became an independent private foundation.

"We are delighted that Dr. John Burris has accepted the presidency of BWF,” Dr. Gold said. “Dr. Burris brings a wide variety of talents and experience to the post. He has been an active investigator in biology, an administrator of an outstanding biological research facility, a member of numerous important national committees and, most recently, president of Beloit College. This combination of experiences assures BWF a leader with vision, leadership ability, a wealth of experience in personal interactions, and access to a national network of scientists, and scientific opinion leaders.

Taken together, Dr. Burris will unquestionably have the capacity to build on the level of excellence to which BWF has been brought by Dr. Bond."

“The United States is one of the only nations in the world where private philanthropy is used to catalyze and cause social and scientific change and progress,” Dr. Burris said. “Philanthropy has the flexibility to implement new programs, provide avenues for individual researchers to test new ideas, and to take risks that often end up with unpredictable and illuminating results.

I have enjoyed watching BWF leverage its funds and intellectual capital through joint initiatives with other organizations. I am honored to serve as its next president, following the dynamic leadership of Queta Bond and the foresight and wisdom of the Board of Directors.”

Dr. Burris has served as president of Beloit College since 2000. There he has overseen a 15 percent increase in enrollment and size of the faculty and a 40 percent increase in applications for admission. Under his leadership, Beloit has continued to emphasize its strengths in the international, the experiential, and the interdisciplinary, while retaining its core values as a residential liberal arts college. The college has raised more than 60 percent of the funds in its $100 million Comprehensive Campaign, the center of which is a new Science Center building that will be dedicated this fall.

Prior to joining Beloit, Dr. Burris was the director and chief executive officer of the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. MBL is an international center for research, education, and training that hosts year-round research programs in cellular, developmental, and reproductive biology; molecular biology and evolution; neurobiology and sensory physiology; ecology; global infectious diseases; and marine biotechnology and aquaculture. Dr. Burris provided strong leadership in developing the MBL board and successfully managed a capital campaign of $40 million

With a desire to impact research policy, Dr. Burris in 1984 joined the National Research Council in Washington as director of the Board on Biology with the Commission on Life Sciences. Four years later, he was promoted to executive director of the Commission where he managed a $25 million budget and helped guide numerous studies, including mapping and sequencing the human genome.

Dr. Burris received an A.B. in biology from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in marine biology from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California-San Diego. He was a biology professor at the Pennsylvania State University from 1976 to 1985 with research interests in the areas of marine and terrestrial plant physiology and ecology.

He has served as president of the American Institute of Biological Sciences and is a member of several distinguished scientific boards and advisory committees including the Grass Foundation, the Stazione Zoologica “Anton Dohrn” in Naples, Italy, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Radiation Effects Research Foundation in Hiroshima, Japan. He has also served as a consultant to the National Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Science and Human Values.

Dr. Burris is no stranger to the Burroughs Wellcome Fund. He chaired the Advisory Committee of the Student Science Enrichment Program for six years and interacted with BWF in his role as director of the Marine Biological Laboratory.

Dr. Burris is a Wisconsin native, married to Sally Burris. They have three daughters, the youngest of whom is in her junior year of college.

For more information:
Russ Campbell, Communications Officer
Telephone: (919) 991-5119
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