Starting this summer, the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology will have new leadership: Ronald Breaker, a Henry Ford II professor in the department, will be the next chair of the department, University President Richard Levin announced in an e-mail to MCDB faculty and staff this afternoon.

Breaker is replacing Tom Pollard, who teaches the popular course “Cell Biology.” The search process for Pollard’s successor began early last fall. Breaker’s term, which begins on July 1, will last for three years. (It’s customary for Yale chairs to serve for two terms, Provost Peter Salovey explained in an interview.)

Breaker is currently one of the professors of “An Issues Approach to Biology,” “Biotechnology” and “Perspectives on Science and Engineering.”

Like fellow MCDB professor and 2009 Nobel Prize winner Thomas Steitz, Breaker’s research involves the ribosome, the cellular organelle that produces proteins. Specifically, he studies how RNA can serve as an enzyme to catalyze chemical reactions for ribosomes.

“He’s somebody who is really a brilliant scientist and an excellent teacher and who I know is just committed to continuing to improve Yale’s reputation in the life sciences,” said Salovey, with whom Breaker served on the Committee on Yale College Education’s Task Force on Biomedical Education in 2001.