Dear Colleagues:

I am pleased to name Professor Susan Martinis as the interim vice chancellor for research designate. She is currently head of the department of biochemistry in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the interim director for biomedical science and engineering in the Carle Illinois College of Medicine. Professor Martinis is a groundbreaking researcher, a decorated teacher and one of the most respected academic administrators on the campus. Her appointment will begin on Oct. 16, pending review and approval by the Board of Trustees.

I have been consulting with our deans, department executives, institute directors, faculty members, staff and other campus leaders to fill this key position since Vice Chancellor Peter Schiffer announced his departure, and I want to thank all of you who offered input on this decision. Professor Martinis has earned a reputation here at Illinois as a collaborative scholar and consultative leader who gets serious work done. These qualities make her an ideal fit for this role.

Professor Martinis joined the department of biochemistry at Illinois as an associate professor in 2005 and became a full professor in 2009. Her tenure at Illinois has included service as head of biochemistry as well as a term as an associate dean for LAS. She also served as head of the department of medical biochemistry for the Regional College of Medicine’s operation on the Urbana campus. Her research into the mechanisms, evolution and biomedical applications of protein synthesis and RNA-protein interactions has been supported by NIH and NSF and earned her recognition as a University Scholar. She also has significant experience in the private sector, working to launch the lifesaving antibiotic Cubicin while at Cubist Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Merck in 2014). Professor Martinis earned her Ph.D. in biochemistry here at Illinois and trained at MIT as an American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellow. She currently holds the Stephen G. Sligar Professorship in the School of Molecular and Cellular Biology.  

I want to thank Peter Schiffer for his outstanding service and leadership as vice chancellor at Illinois. He leaves us with a research enterprise and infrastructure that is robust, resilient, sustainable and positioned for continued growth and excellence.

Please join me in congratulating – and thanking – Professor Susan Martinis as she takes on this critical responsibility for us. I am confident that the research enterprise will not only continue to thrive, but also grow under her leadership.


Robert J. Jones

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