Top 20 Research Institute Salaries

Here's a question: As the nation's leading, independent nonprofit life sciences research institutes pursue the quest for cures and answers to the major medical challenges of our time, how high a salary should be paid to the person in charge?

There isn't an easy answer. Certainly, it's not the corporate world, so pay levels aren't commensurate with profits and productivity, per se. But similar to corporations, leaders of research institutions must have stellar resumés, to be sure, and a track record of success.

A new report by Genetic Engineering News (using data from compiles a top 20 list of the salaries these groups paid their leaders. The numbers are based on the most recent year reported (which can vary among nonprofits) so some are from the 2010 calendar year, others from 2011, or fiscal year 2010-2011. Some interesting trends emerge all the same. Certainly, none of the 20 men on this list make multimillion salaries as their drug industry corporate counterparts do. But the top four institute heads, for example--led by the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute CEO John C. Reed--pulled in well over $1 million for their most recent reported annual salary.

Has Reed earned his salary? A peek at the institute's website reveals its researchers are generating plenty of media attention. Two Sanford-Burnham institute scientists based in La Jolla, CA, are currently favored for Nobel prizes. The institute has also generated coverage of its research findings and milestones in areas including obesity, skin cancer, stem cells and Alzheimer's disease. 

And then there is 7th-placed Eric Lander, president and founding director of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, which was launched less than a decade ago in Cambridge, MA, funded by the largess of Los Angeles-based philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad. The center, which unites a cadre of researchers and their work at both the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University, often generates breaking news in genetics research. Recently, the Broad formed an antibacterial and antiviral research partnership with AstraZeneca ($AZN), reflecting a sophisticated approach to life sciences research and development that acknowledges the drug industry's participation can help pinpoint those efforts. Lander's salary doesn't crack the million-dollar mark, but it's not that far away, according to the Genetic Engineering News report.

J. Craig Venter's salary may be among the most unexpected. The founder, chairman and president of the eponymously-named J. Craig Venter Institute places only 9th out of 20 on Genetic Engineering News' list.  Considering his reputation as a gene sequencing/synthetic biology pioneer, observers may have expected him to land at least a few notches higher. Venter, known for arrogance, hubris and not necessarily working well with others, is one of the first people to sequence the human genome, and have his genome sequenced. He also successfully built the first self-replicating synthetic bacterial cell, an accomplishment credited with making a genetic engineering industry possible. With that kind of track record, his institute is, and will be, certainly worth watching, and he could have arguably grabbed a much higher salary for himself. He's also made at least one other list--FierceBiotech's 25 most influential people in biopharma today. -- Mark Hollmer (Twitter | email)

Read on for the full top 20 list as compiled by Genetic Engineering News, or click here for the original report.

Name: Michael A. Luther, Ph.D.

Title/Institution: President, David H. Murdock Research Institute

Salary: $240,601, FY 2010–2011

Name: Kenneth Stuart, Ph.D.

Title/Institution: President, 1976–2012; President Emeritus, Seattle Biomedical Research Institute

Salary: $308,150, FY 2010–201

Name: Bertold Sakmann, M.D., Ph.D.

Title/Institution: Inaugural Scientific Director & Research Group Leader, Digital Neuroanatomy, Max Planck Florida Institute; Emeritus Scientific Member, Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology

Salary: $335,592, CY 2010

Name: Leroy (Lee) Hood, M.D., Ph.D.

Title/Institution: President & Co-Founder, Institute of Systems Biology

Salary: $382,844, CY 2010

Name: Charles P. Emerson, Jr., Ph.D.

Title/Institution: Director & Senior Scientist, Boston Biomedical Research Institute

Salary: $401,136, FY 2010–2011

Name: Richard M. Myers, Ph.D.

Title/Institution: President and Director, HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology

Salary: $418,101 in CY 2010

Name: Richard A. Houghten, Ph.D.

Title/Institution: Founder, President and CEO, Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies

Salary: $472,407, FY 2010–2011

Name: Richard Woychik, Ph.D.

Title/Institution: President and CEO, The Jackson Laboratory

Salary: $541,735, FY ending May 31, 2011

Name: Thomas J. Hudson, M.D., Ph.D.

Title/Institution: President and Scientific Director, Ontario Institute for Cancer Research

Salary: $546,805.99, CY 2011

Name: Christopher J. Elias, M.D.

Title/Institution: President and CEO, PATH

Salary: $556,287, CY 2010 (filed Oct. 13, 2011)

Name: Leland (Lee) H. Hartwell, Ph.D.

Title/Institution: President and Director (1997–2010), Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

Salary: $634,183, FY 2010–2011

Name: J. Craig Venter, Ph.D.

Title/Institution: Founder, Chairman, and President, J. Craig Venter Institute

Salary: $645,929, CY 2010

Name: Bruce Stillman, Ph.D.

Title/Institution: President, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Salary: $751,839, CY 2010

Name: Eric S. Lander, Ph.D.

Title/Institution: Founding Director & Director of the Genome Biology Program, Broad Institute

Salary: $818,876, FY 2010–201

Name: R. Sanders Williams, M.D.

Title/Institution: President, J. David Gladstone Institutes

Salary: $862,505, CY 2010

Name: William R. Brody, M.D., Ph.D.

Title/Institution: President, The Salk Institute for Biological Studies

Salary: $951,743, FY 2010–2011

Name: Jeffrey M. Trent, Ph.D.

Title/Institution: President & Scientific Director, Translational Genomics Research Institute

Salary: $1,063,599, FY 2009–2010

Name: Robert Tjian, Ph.D.

Title/Institution: President, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Salary: $1,143,070, FY ending Aug. 31, 2011

Name: Richard A. Lerner, M.D.

Title/Institution: President & CEO, 1991–2012; Researcher, Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology, 2012-present, The Scripps Research Institute

Salary: $1,370,328, FY ending Sept. 30, 2010

Name: John C. Reed, M.D., Ph.D.

Title/Institution: CEO, Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute

Salary: $1,476,406, FY 2010–2011






Source: Genetic Engineering News

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