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Three Harvard Scholars Named University Professors, Highest Faculty Distinction

From left to right, professors Catherine Dulac, Robert J. Sampson, and Arlene H. Sharpe ’75
From left to right, professors Catherine Dulac, Robert J. Sampson, and Arlene H. Sharpe ’75 By Channing Johnson and Courtesy of Kris Snibbe / Harvard University
By Ariel H. Kim and Meimei Xu, Crimson Staff Writers

Harvard scholars Catherine Dulac, Robert J. Sampson, and Arlene H. Sharpe ’75 will become University Professors, Harvard’s highest faculty distinction, next year.

Some of Harvard’s most prominent scholars serve as University Professors, a post that allows faculty members to pursue research and teach at any school across the University.

Dulac, Sampson, and Sharpe will join 22 other University Professors in the post, effective Jan. 1, 2023.

Sharpe, a Comparative Pathology professor and the chair of Harvard Medical School’s Immunology Department, will become the Kolokotrones University Professor, replacing medical anthropologist Paul Farmer, who died last spring. She studies T cells, a type of white blood cell that helps the body fight infection and may help defeat cancer. She is working to translate her research into new therapies for cancer and autoimmune diseases.

Sharpe is the co-leader of the Massachusetts Consortium on Pathogen Readiness, which was established in March 2020 at Harvard Medical School to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic and prepare for emerging outbreaks.

“I’ve been at Harvard as an undergrad, M.D.-Ph.D. student, and my whole career — just the inspiration I got as an undergraduate as well as through my training and then my colleagues, are what have kept me here all of this time,” she said.

Sharpe said her new appointment is a recognition of her students and advisees, as well as her.

“I feel like I have two families. I have my personal family and my lab family,” she said. “For me, it’s all of their hard work and creativity that really I’ve benefited so much from.”

Sampson, a Social Sciences professor, studies crime, disorder, inequality, and urban areas. He is also an affiliated research professor at the American Bar Foundation and the founding director of the Boston Area Research Initiative, a cross-university center that uses data-driven research to advocate for social justice in Boston.

“I am extremely grateful to President Bacow for providing a unique opportunity to forge new ties with colleagues outside my normal orbit,” Sampson wrote in a statement. “That includes new possibilities for teaching in other units at Harvard and exposing my FAS students to intellectual opportunities beyond a standard disciplinary course.”

Dulac, a professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology, has been appointed the Samuel W. Morris University Professor, replacing economist Dale W. Jorgenson, who died this summer. She studies behavioral neuroscience, looking at mice to understand the molecular and neurological mechanisms behind innate social behaviors.

“Being a faculty member at Harvard has allowed me to follow my passion for scientific research and teaching in collaboration with many inspiring colleagues,” she said in a press release. “I am intrigued and excited to continue to build on my existing work and creating new collaborations across the various Schools here at Harvard, which this appointment will further help foster.”

—Staff writer Ariel H. Kim can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @ArielH_Kim.
—Staff writer Meimei Xu can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @MeimeiXu7.

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