/ Scientists / Our Scientists Ira  Mellman - Vice President, Cancer Immunology

Ira Mellman

Vice President, Cancer Immunology

Postdoc mentor iconPostdoc Mentor
"At Genentech, I found that you can do your science at the highest possible level, engage the most profound problems you can imagine, have access to a research environment and infrastructure unimaginable at an academic institution, and also have the opportunity - and the challenge - to make a difference."
  • 7
    years at Genentech
  • 28
    publications (2009-14)
  • 16
    awards & honors

I came to Genentech in the Spring of 2007 after more than 20 years as a faculty member at the Yale University School of Medicine, where I was chair of my department, a member of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, and scientific director of the Yale Cancer Center.

I ran a large and successful laboratory, I was surrounded by valued friends and colleagues, and I worked at one of the world's great universities. I had the perfect job, but I came to Genentech anyway. Why? Because at Genentech, I found that you can do your science at the highest possible level, engage the most profound problems you can imagine, have access to a research environment and infrastructure unimaginable at an academic institution, and also have the opportunity - and the challenge - to make a difference.

Postdoctoral Mentor

During my 20+ years in the Department of Cell Biology at Yale Medical School, I mentored over 60 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. Many of these young scientists have gone on to wonderfully successful scientific careers at major universities and research institutions around the world. This is by far my proudest accomplishment in science. While the lab group at Yale was quite a bit larger (25-30) than it is at Genentech, my philosophy towards mentorship has not changed. I believe in challenging each and every individual who enters the group to “aim high” and attempt to tackle a major problem of great significance. It is as much effort to do something that is derivative as it is to do something that is exciting, so why not at least try for something exciting? I believe in allowing people to grow and think for themselves, to learn how to frame problems and to plot the best paths to answer them. These are scientific skills that will be required for a successful career in any setting be it academia, industry, or elsewhere. My role is to guide the process by providing whatever wisdom I have gained from my own experience and by ensuring that every postdoc has a chance to reach his/her full potential by developing the highest level of scientific creativity, critical thought, communications skills, and experimental rigor.

  • My Focus
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