Daniel Jay named dean of Sackler School

08/14/2017 - Boston, Mass. - Portrait of Daniel Jay, Dean of the Sackler School, photographed in front of his artwork on display in the Sackler Center on August 14, 2017. (Courtesy Anna Miller/Tufts University)

The Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences named Daniel Jay as its new dean.

Jay has been a professor at Tufts for nearly 20 years in three departments: Cell, Molecular and Developmental Biology; Cellular and Molecular Physiology; and Neuroscience. He also runs a lab that does metastasis research and worked as the director of the postdoctoral affairs office and postdoctoral association at the Tufts University School of Medicine, a role that allowed him to oversee and advocate for the postdoc community and create career development programming. Furthermore, Jay is an adjunct professor of drawing and painting at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts (SMFA).

Jay will be replacing Naomi Rosenberg, who stepped down as dean of the Sackler School in June after 13 years.

“She worked tirelessly for the good of this institution and I have very large shoes to fill. She was a remarkable dean whose impact on the Sackler School and Tufts in general … will be felt for years,” Jay said.

Jay said his mission for the Sackler School is to train the next generation of biomedical science professionals for career excellence in academia and across the workforce.

“Eighty percent of our Ph.D.s go on to jobs other than being a professor, so we need to identify what each person’s passion is in terms of their career path and provide them with the tools so that they can compete, excel and lead in those careers,” he said.

As someone who is also involved in the arts, Jay noted that he has always focused on the interdisciplinary aspect of education.

“I’ve always felt that silos that prevent us from communicating and working together are a detriment,” Jay said. “While arts and science are very far apart, I have always felt comfortable bridging the two and, as a dean, I feel very strongly that we can bridge the gaps between our various programs.”

As an example of this interdisciplinary bridging, Jay said that professors at the Sackler School teach clinical sciences as well as basic sciences.

“I think that is the interface where one can make the most progress towards what we call ‘translational medicine’ and toward understanding disease and discovery of new treatments, cures [and] diagnostics, so I think it comes quite naturally for me to try to break barriers,” he said.

Jay said that his artwork is related to using scientific materials as new art mediums to explore things that have inspired him throughout his scientific career.

“My feeling is that there is something interesting at the interface between the two that can benefit both fields, whether that is creativity or thinking outside the box, or problem solving or experimentation,” Jay said.

Nancy Bauer, who currently serves as the dean of the SMFA, expressed enthusiasm about professors like Jay from other schools and the opportunity they present for the SMFA.

“There are a number of scientists in Arts and Sciences and Engineering who have been very, very interested in the SMFA and are collaborating with the SMFA,” Bauer said.

Jay said that he and Daniel Volchok, associate dean of the Sackler School, also want to develop new programming that trains students in career paths and gives them the skills they need, ranging from navigating the corporate environment to learning the process through which a drug becomes approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

“These are things that our students need and want, and will provide them with a leg up as they pursue career paths in the various interesting areas of biomedicine now available to this generation,” Jay said.

Volchok noted that the Sackler School aims to become a leader in educational innovation.

“The whole biomedical field is changing, and going through an evolution, and we want to be at the cutting edge of that evolution to serve our students and our graduates,” he said.

Jay expressed that although this new mission is in its early stages, he is excited and encouraged by the enthusiasm of his students, faculty and administration.

“I think that if we do this right … Sackler can take a leadership position to demonstrate to the rest of the country what it’s like when we can train our students to pursue their passion,” Jay said.