published February 10, 2010

David Asai to Deliver Keynote at Washington Symposium

David Asai, Director of the Precollege and Undergraduate Science Education Programs for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, will offer his thoughts about the challenges of implementation of the Scientific Foundations for Future Physicians report. His keynote address, focusing on the implications of the report for undergraduate education, will open the NCSCE Washington Symposium and Poster Session at the University of Maryland on April 19th. Several observers have noted that the core principles enunciated in the report are distinctly in sympathy with the SENCER ideals and with the approach taken by faculty members who created SENCER courses and projects in the life sciences. To read the report, issued jointly by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Association of American Medical Colleges, click here.

Dr. Asai received a B.S. in Chemistry from Stanford, the co-terminal M.S. in Biology from Stanford, and the Ph.D. from the Division of Biology at Caltech. He was a Muscular Dystrophy Association Postdoctoral Fellow at Caltech for a year, then an NIH Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He served as an assistant research professor at UCSB, then moved to a tenure-track faculty position in the Department of Biological Sciences at Purdue University. At Purdue, Dr. Asai was Assistant, Associate, and Full Professor, served five years as Associate Head of Biological Sciences, and three years as Head. He was elected to the Purdue University Teaching Academy in 2000 and was inducted into the Purdue Book of Great Teachers in 2003.

In 2003, Dr. Asai moved his lab and himself to Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, California, where he served as Stuart Mudd Professor and Chair of Biology until 2008; he continues to have a faculty appointment at Harvey Mudd. His research focuses on the molecular motor dynein; his lab has published over 70 research papers, and he has edited two books, Antibodies in Cell Biology (1993) and Tetrahymena thermophila (2000). His lab has been continuously supported by extramural grants since 1982. Dr. Asai was Program Director of HHMI Undergraduate Science Education grants at Purdue and at Harvey Mudd. In the autumn of 2008, he joined the Howard Hughes Medical Institute as Director of the Precollege and Undergraduate Science Education Programs. These Programs, with annual disbursements of approximately $50 million, include precollege science education grants to biomedical research institutions, precollege grants to local institutions, undergraduate science education institutional grants to colleges and universities, the HHMI professors program, and the EXceptional Research Opportunities Program aimed at undergraduates from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Photograph by Paul Fetters