Accelerating Breakthrough Discoveries into Medicines

William G. Kaelin, Jr., MD

Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; Senior Physician, Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Dr. Kaelin’s laboratory studies tumor suppressor genes and the normal functions of the proteins they encode. The long-term goal of this work is to lay the foundation for the development of new anticancer therapies based on the functions of specific tumor suppressor proteins. For example, this work may open up the possibility of developing a drug that mimics the behavior of a certain tumor suppressor protein or of designing strategies for killing only those cells in which a particular tumor suppressor protein has been inactivated, thus sparing normal cells. The lab currently concentrates on the von Hippel-Lindau tumor suppressor protein (pVHL), the retinoblastoma tumor suppressor protein (pRB) and the p53-like protein p73.

Dr. Kaelin earned bachelor’s degrees in chemistry and math from Duke University, Durham, NC followed by an MD, also from Duke. He completed his residency in internal medicine at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, MD., followed by a fellowship in medical oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston. He was a post-doctoral fellow in the laboratory of David Livingston, MD, where he began his studies of tumor suppressor proteins. He became an independent investigator at Dana-Farber in 1992, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Cambridge, MA., in 2002.

Dr. Kaelin has received numerous awards, including the Distinguished Alumnus Award, Duke University School of Medicine; the James S. McDonnell Scholar Award; the Paul Marks Prize for Cancer Research, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center; the Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Foundation Award, the American Association for Cancer Research; the Doris Duke Distinguished Clinical Scientist Award; the Stanley J. Korsmeyer Award; the Alfred Knudson Award in Cancer Genetics; the Canada Gairdner Award; and the Colin Thomson Medal. His honors include being elected to the Association of American Physicians, the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine.