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Insight & Intelligence™ : Jul 21, 2014

20 Top-Paid Research Institute Leaders of 2014

Meet the top dogs of academia.

American diplomat and political scientist Henry Kissinger has been quoted as once pointing out that “academic politics are so vicious because the stakes are so small.” Well, that may or may not have been true in the past but the stakes in academia today can be huge, including in the U.S.

Tight budgets and growing international competition are causing many major U.S. medical institutes to increasingly perform like businesses to survive and thrive. As a result, the heads of many U.S. institutes are paid like those running some small and medium-sized companies.

Following is a list of 20 current or former senior executives of independent nonprofit research institutes, ranked by total compensation for the most recent two years such information was available as furnished by Form 990s filed annually by each institution with the Internal Revenue Service and made public through Guidestar.org and Foundation Center. In most cases, the most recent years available were fiscal years ending in 2012 and 2011. In some cases, new Form 990s covering periods ending in 2013 were available.

Unlike the Top 25 list published last year, this year’s top 20 list is limited to top day-to-day executives, to avoid the distortion of having numerous investment officers without scientific responsibilities fill the list because of pay spikes tied to the revival of the stock market over the past 18 months. These leaders are typically CEOs, presidents, or leaders who held both titles.

Total compensation for leaders of research institutes was mostly stable over the past year. Of 19 leaders whose total compensation could be compared year-over-year, only one saw it rise by greater than 10%, while three saw compensation reductions of 10% or more, including one who saw reduced responsibilities following the end of an affiliation agreement with another institution. Eleven saw their compensation rise up to 10%, while four saw theirs shrink by up to 10%. A year-to-year comparison was unavailable for one leader who took the helm of a research institute after arriving from an institution based overseas and not subject to similar reporting requirements.

#20. Leroy (Lee) Hood, M.D., Ph.D.

Title: President

Institution: Institute for Systems Biology

2012 calendar year: $414,194

2011 calendar year: $414,471

% Change: 0.07%

#19. Jill O’Donnell-Tormey, Ph.D.

Title: CEO & Director of Scientific Affairs

Institution: Cancer Research Institute

FY ending June 30, 2013: $420,174

FY ending June 30, 2012: $412,959

% Change: 1.7%

#18. Allan Jones, Ph.D.

Title: CEO

Institution: Allen Institute for Brain Science

2012 calendar year: $460,347

2011 calendar year: $439,254

% Change: 4.8%

#17. Mitchell Kronenberg, Ph.D.

Title: President and Chief Scientific Officer

Institution: La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology

2012 calendar year: $463,028

2011 calendar year: $445,380

% Change: 4.0%

#16. Richard A. Houghten, Ph.D.

Title: Founder, President, and CEO

Institution: Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies

FY ending June 30, 2013: $475,623

FY ending June 30, 2012: $474,034

% Change: 0.3%

#15. Richard M. Myers, Ph.D.

Title: Faculty Investigator, Director, and President

Institution: HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology

2012 calendar year: $557,557

2011 calendar year: $533,559

% Change: 4.5%

#14. J. Craig Venter, Ph.D.

Title: Founder, Chairman, and CEO

Institution: J. Craig Venter Institute

2012 calendar year: $646,969

2011 calendar year: $648,539

% Change: -0.2%

#13. Russel E. Kaufman, M.D.

Title: President and CEO

Institution: The Wistar Institute

2012 calendar year: $724,000

2011 calendar year: $733,000

% Change: -1.2%

#12. Eric S. Lander, Ph.D.

Title: Founding Director and Director of the Genome Biology Program

Institution: Broad Institute

FY ending June 30, 2012: $735,116

FY ending June 30, 2011: $818,876

% Change: -10.2%

#11. R. Sanders Williams, M.D.

Title: President1

Institution: The J. David Gladstone Institutes

2012 calendar year: $757,552

2011 calendar year: $851,894

% Change: -11.1%

#10. Bruce Stillman, Ph.D.

Title: President and CEO

Institution: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

2012 calendar year: $757,778

2011 calendar year: $745,552

% Change: 1.6%

#9. Edison T. Liu M.D.

Title: President and CEO, 2012–present; President, Human Genome Organization (HUGO), 2007–2012

Institution: The Jackson Laboratory

2012 calendar year: $908,4232

2011 calendar year: N/A3

% Change: N/A

#8. Jeffrey M. Trent, Ph.D.

Title: President and Scientific Director4

Institution: Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen)

13 months ending December 31, 2012: $914,4455,6

FY ending November 30, 2011: $1,346,4355,6

% Change: -32.1%

#7. William R. Brody, M.D., Ph.D.

Title: President

Institution: The Salk Institute for Biological Studies

FY ending June 30, 2012: $946,823

FY ending June 30, 2011: $951,743

% Change: -0.5%

#6. Kristiina Vuori, M.D., Ph.D.

Title: President and Interim CEO7

Institution: Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute

FY ending September 30, 2012: $1,102,8907

FY ending September 30, 2011: $1,011,7537

% Change: 9.0%

#5. David M. Chao, Ph.D.

Title: President and CEO8

Institution: Stowers Institute for Medical Research

2012 calendar year: $1,240,569

2011 calendar year: $1,180,916

% Change: 5.1%

#4. Robert Tjian, Ph.D.

Title: President9

Institution: Howard Hughes Medical Institute

FY ending August 31, 2013: $1,317,918

FY ending August 31, 2012: $1,199,437

% Change: 9.9%

#3. John C. Reed, M.D., Ph.D.

Title: CEO, 2010–2013; President and CEO, 2002–201010

Institution: Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute

FY ending June 30, 2012: $1,369,926

FY ending June 30, 2011: $1,476,406

% Change: -7.2%

#2. Richard A. Lerner, M.D.11

Title: President and CEO, 1991–2012;11 Researcher, Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology, where he is an Institute Professor and the Lita Annenberg Hazen Professor of Immunochemistry, 2012–present; director of predecessor organization, 1987–1991

Institution: The Scripps Research Institute

FY ending September 30, 2012: $1,370,560

FY ending September 30, 2011: $1,370,494

% Change: 0.005%

#1. Stephen M. Prescott, M.D.

Title: President

Institution: Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation

FY ending June 30, 2013: $1,908,38312

FY ending June 30, 2012: $1,249,438

% Change: 17.9%