Photo courtesy of University of California, Berkeley
Born in Hong Kong to a family of industrialists, biochemist Robert Tjian immigrated to the United States as a young child. Earning degrees from the University of California, Berkeley, and Harvard University, he joined the faculty at Berkeley in 1979 after completing a post-doctoral fellowship at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. He has made major contributions to the field of genetic research, including key advances in the process of decoding the human genome and understanding the regulation of gene expression. He was named California Scientist of the Year, in 1994, and was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. In 2009, he became president of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, one of the best endowed medical research foundations in the world. He continues to work as both a scientist and professor.