Marc Kirschner is the founding chair of the Department of Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School. Prior to that, he Chaired the Department of Cell Biology at the same institution for ten years. Before moving to Harvard he was a Professor at the University of California in San Francisco for fifteen years. Prior to his tenure at UCSF, he was on the faculty at Princeton University. His PhD was with Howard Schachman at the University of California, Berkeley in 1971 in biochemistry.
Through his career Professor Kirschner has taken biochemical and molecular biological approaches to fundamental problems in cell and developmental biology, such as the dynamics and function of the cytoskeleton, the regulation of the eukaryotic cell cycle, and the process of signaling in embryos. In 1997 and in 2005 he collaborated with John Gerhart on two books aimed at explaining what cellular and developmental processes in organisms contribute to their evolution. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1989 and as a foreign member to the Royal Society of London in 1999. His current interests are cell growth, signaling and morphogenesis, and in particular quantitative approaches to these subjects.