Dr. Peter Gruss Appointed Next President of OIST Graduate University

The Board of Governors of the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology has selected Dr. Peter Gruss as the next CEO of the OIST School Corporation and President of the Graduate University.

Peter Gruss

The Board of Governors of the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology has selected Dr. Peter Gruss as the next CEO of the OIST School Corporation and President of the Graduate University. Dr. Gruss, an internationally recognized researcher in gene regulation and embryonic development, served as President of the Max Planck Society, in Germany from 2002-2014. Previously, Dr. Gruss was Director of the Department of Molecular Cell Biology at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen for 16 years. Dr. Gruss, who is 67 years old, will take office on January 1, 2017, succeeding Dr. Jonathan Dorfan who has served as the inaugural CEO and President since November 2011. Dr. Gruss met today in Tokyo with Mr. Yosuke Tsuruho, Minister of State for Okinawa and Northern Territories Affairs and other prominent government officials.

“OIST is probably the most interesting initiative in world scientific research and education. It has very high ambitions to become established as one of the great research universities. The Japanese Government has a clear vision for setting up an international, interdisciplinary university that will produce the future leaders for rapidly changing research and business,” said Dr. Gruss. “I am honored to be given the opportunity to lead OIST and look forward to the future with great excitement.”

The Max Planck Society has a world-leading reputation as a science and technology research organization, with 33 Nobel Prizes awarded to its scientists, and is regarded as one of the foremost basic research organizations in Europe. It includes 80 Max Planck Institutes, with a total staff of approximately 17,000 permanent employees, including 5,470 scientists, and around 4,600 non-tenured scientists and guests. Under the leadership of Dr. Gruss, the Max Planck Society expanded into new scientific fields, enhanced the international composition of the Max Planck Institutes, and strengthened the support and training for graduate students and young scientists. By working closely with the national and regional governments, Dr. Gruss achieved major success in stabilizing the funding for the Max Planck network.

Dr. Gruss is a leader in technology transfer and innovation. He co-founded a biopharmaceutical company and serves as Chair of the Siemens Technology and Innovation Council. His extensive experience in leading a complex research enterprise, his vision, and his broad international network will be critically important to continuing the recruitment of outstanding faculty and students from around the globe, the development of OIST’s collaboration with academia and industry worldwide, and the enhancement of OIST’s role in the future development of Okinawa.

The appointment culminates an extensive international search. The OIST Board of Governors announced the start of the search for a new President/CEO at their meeting in October 2015. The Presidential Search Committee (PSC), which was appointed in November 2015, included eight OIST Board members and four faculty members and was chaired by Dr. Albrecht Wagner. The position was advertised in major research and educational publications in early January 2016. Over 140 applications and nominations were received, and after careful review and evaluation and a preliminary round of video interviews, five finalists, including two female candidates, were selected and interviewed by the PSC and the Steering Committee of the Board. Dr. Gruss stood out as the outstanding candidate and was unanimously approved by the Board of Governors as the new President/CEO as of January 1, 2017. The formal arrangements and protocols for the appointment have just been completed. 

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