Next summer, the pharmacology department at the Yale School of Medicine will be helmed by a new leader.

Mark A. Lemmon, the Alfred Gilman Professor of Pharmacology, will be taking the reins as the department’s chair. Announced in late November, Lemmon, who is also the deputy director of Yale Cancer Center and the co-director of the Yale Cancer Biology Institute, will begin his role as department chair on July 1, 2023.

“I am delighted that Professor Lemmon has been appointed as the next Chair of Pharmacology,” Anton Bennett, the current interim chair of pharmacology and the Dorys McConnell Duberg Professor of Pharmacology told the News. “Lemmon has been an active member of the department of Pharmacology since his recruitment in 2015 where he has also successfully built the Yale Cancer Biology Institute. Lemmon has shown outstanding leadership skills and I have every confidence that these skills will translate to his leadership of the Pharmacology Department.”

Lemmon did not respond to multiple requests for comment. 

Having received his B.A. in biochemistry from the University of Oxford and his Ph.D. in molecular biophysics and biochemistry from Yale, Lemmon arrived at Yale from the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine where he was a faculty member for nearly 20 years. After 7 years as the chair of the Department of Biochemistry & Biophysics, Lemmon was recruited to Yale to build the Cancer Biology Institute on West Campus.

Lemmon has recruited faculty across departments specializing in cell signaling, epitranscriptomics, quantitative proteomics and other cancer subspecialities as the co-director of YCBI. He has also been involved in the recruitment of physician-scientists at the Yale Cancer Center.

At Yale, Lemmon’s research focuses on the signaling of growth factor receptor tyrosine kinases cell receptors that, when mutated, can cause cancer and other diseases. Specifically, his research explores the Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor family of RTKs, understanding how cell signaling influences cell fate and disease.

“I can say that Mark gives 110% effort to whatever he undertakes to do,” wrote Zaritza Petrova, a Ph.D. student in pharmacology who works in Lemmon’s lab. “If our lab and institute can be considered a microcosm of what the department could be, it will be a diverse hub of rigorous science grounded in solid basics while incorporating and pursuing innovative science, thought-provoking discussions, happy hours for more discussions and a collective sense of purpose.”

According to Nancy Brown, Dean of the Yale School of Medicine, Lemmon was chosen after a national search for a new chair of pharmacology. Out of several “outstanding candidates”, according to Brown, Lemmon was selected for his “commitment to mentoring faculty and students.”

Lemmon will succeed Joseph Schessinger, the William H. Prusoff Professor of Pharmacology and co-Director of the Cancer Biology Institute, who chaired the department for more than 20 years.

“Lemmon has an exciting vision for the future of Pharmacology,” Bennett wrote to the News. “I believe that a direction that takes the department towards systems-level pharmacology that is vertically integrated – molecules to cells to animals to humans will be one that I will enthusiastically embrace. Pharmacology should be viewed as the department that is leading the way in areas of drug discovery and translational therapeutics to treat human disease.”

Petrova, a current graduate student in the department, also expressed her support for Lemmon’s appointment as chair. During his tenure, Petrova hopes that he fosters more “cohesiveness and diversity” among students and “more cross-pollination between departments such as immunology, neuroscience and with clinicians as well.”

Bennett also emphasized the importance of diversity and inclusion within the department. He believes that Lemmon is equipped to handle that challenge.

“Lemmon is committed to addressing issues of diversity and inclusion in the department at all levels, faculty, students, and staff,” Bennett wrote. “I very much hope that Lemmon builds upon the existing strengths of the department and continues to foster strong community and belonging amongst all its members.”

The Yale School of Medicine Department of Pharmacology is located at 333 Cedar St.

Chloe Nield contributed reporting. 

Giri Viswanathan was a Science and Technology Editor for the News. Previously, he served as a Photography Editor while covering the School of Public Health for the SciTech Desk. Originally from Pittsburgh, PA, Giri is a junior in Timothy Dwight College majoring in Global Affairs with a certificate in Global Health Studies.