Lander received his PhD in mathematics from Oxford in 1981, as a Rhodes Scholar. He joined Whitehead Institute in 1986 and founded the Whitehead Institute/MIT Center for Genome Research in 1990. Lander became the founding director of the newly created Broad Institute in 2003. The Broad is a collaboration of MIT, Harvard University and affiliated hospitals, and Whitehead Institute. It is aimed at creating comprehensive tools for genomic medicine and pioneering their application to propel the understanding and treatment of disease. Eric S. Lander is one of the driving forces behind today's revolution in genomics; the study of all of the genes in an organism and how they function together in health and disease. He is also a professor of biology at MIT and a professor of systems biology at Harvard Medical School.
Lander's group recently launched a revolution in the study of human genetic variation, through its own research, and participation in larger projects devoted to the question. He has also led the efforts to develop many new analytical and laboratory techniques for studying complex genetic traits in human, animal and plant populations and for creating a molecular taxonomy of cancer. These techniques have been applied to a broad range of common diseases, including cancer, diabetes, inflammatory diseases and many other less common genetic illnesses.