Rice U. Hires 3 Prominent Biophysicists Away From U. of California

May 27, 2011

In an unusual recruiting coup, Rice University announced on Thursday that it has hired three prominent researchers from the University of California at San Diego to study the development of cancer.

Rice will bring on Herbert Levine, José N. Onuchic, and Peter G. Wolynes, a team that Rice's provost called "the center of gravity of theoretical biophysics in this country." They have used concepts in physics and chemistry to help answer basic questions in biology, such as how proteins are assembled.

Their work at Rice will include developing an integrated view of the effects of cancer, and it will be supported by a $10-million grant from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas. Rice's provost, George L. McLendon, said the three scientists were probably willing to come only as a team. He had recruited them for roughly a year.

"We could not say no," Mr. Levine said on Thursday. He said Rice's offer was the primary reason for the move, but that financial problems at the University of California had played a secondary role.