Simon Tavaré Appointed Director of Irving Institute of Cancer Dynamics

July 16, 2018

Dear fellow members of the Columbia community:

I am writing to announce that Professor Simon Tavaré is coming to Columbia from the University of Cambridge to become the founding Director of the newly established Herbert and Florence Irving Institute of Cancer Dynamics.  Professor Tavaré is a pioneering statistician and internationally recognized cancer researcher with a principal focus on cancer genomics.  His appointments at Columbia are in the departments of Statistics and Biological Sciences, and he also will be a member of the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center.

For the past five years, Professor Tavaré has been the Director of the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, where he leads several projects that are improving the understanding of the molecular basis of cancer, work that he will continue at Columbia.  His research in DNA analysis and genetic variation in humans is responsible for important insights in population genetics and computational biology, a field he helped to create in the 1980s.  He is a fellow of the Royal Society and The Academy of Medical Sciences in the UK, a past president of the London Mathematical Society, and a foreign associate of the National Academy of Sciences.

Eight months ago I announced, along with Dr. Lee Goldman and Dr. Steven Corwin, a historic bequest from Florence Irving and the late Herbert Irving to Columbia and NewYork-Presbyterian.  We explained then that their unprecedented gift would be used, in part, to strengthen our capabilities in genomics, computational biology, statistics, imaging, and other scientific fields at the forefront of efforts to fight and cure cancer.  Today’s announcement that Professor Tavaré is joining the Columbia faculty and leading the Herbert and Florence Irving Institute of Cancer Dynamics marks a critical step toward achieving this University-wide mission.  The Institute will have strong connections with numerous programs on the Morningside and Columbia University Irving Medical Center campuses, including the Data Science Institute, the Statistics and Biological Sciences departments, the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the Systems Biology department, and both the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Institute for Genomic Medicine.

I firmly anticipate that in the years ahead, through Professor Tavaré’s leadership of the Herbert and Florence Irving Institute of Cancer Dynamics, and through the remarkable biomedical and scientific research capacity we are building across our campuses, Columbia will make great strides in the fight against cancer.  For the present, please join me in welcoming Simon Tavaré to our faculty and to the Columbia community.


Lee C. Bollinger