Robert Lefkowitz, physician-scientist from Duke University and the 2012 Nobel laureate in chemistry for his studies of GPCRs has recently written a memoir called A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Stockholm, and we couldn’t resist the opportunity to ask Dr. Lefkowitz to reflect more extensively on a life well lived and a career full of phenomenal insights and ample laughter. Hear his reflections on competition in academia as well as the push and pull of a life as a physician-scientist.
Beginning in the mid-1980s, Dr. Griffin Rodgers, Director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) at the National Institutes of Health, led studies demonstrating the effectiveness of the drug hydroxyurea, the first FDA-approved drug for sickle cell disease. Since then, Rodgers has worked on transplant strategies and therapies for sickle cell disease and other hemoglobinopathies while also taking on massive leadership and administrative roles at the NIH, culminating in his appointment to the directorship of the NIDDK in 2007. Watch to hear about how Malcolm Gladwell and Howard Hughes played a role in sickle cell anemia and why it’s fitting to study hematology at a diabetes- and kidney-focused institute.
C. Ronald (Ron) Kahn of the Joslin Diabetes Center at Harvard Medical School is a physician-scientist who illuminated much of what we appreciate about the insulin receptor and the means by which it signals. He previously served as president of the American Society for Clinical Investigation and is the scientist with the most publications in the JCI. See the full interview on the JCI website https://www.jci.org/videos/cgms to hear more about Dr. Kahn’s political aspirations beyond the presidency of ASCI and to hear who told him he’d never be a big deal in endocrinology.
We take it for granted today that each hormone and other intercellular messenger have their own specific receptors. But this was not the case until the groundbreaking work of Jesse Roth and his colleagues. Roth is best known for his research on cell surface membrane receptors. His studies on the receptors for insulin, growth hormone, and adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) in the early 1970s became the model for many others.
Barbara Kahn is the quintessential physician-scientist. Dr. Kahn, of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, is best known for elucidating molecular mechanisms of type 2 diabetes, obesity, and insulin resistance, with a particular emphasis on the role of the adipocyte in regulating glucose metabolism. In this interview by JCI Editor at Large Ushma Neill, Dr. Kahn discusses her work and history, including tales of going to Studio 54 with Andy Warhol.