C. Ronald Kahn

Harvard University


Primary Section: 42, Medical Physiology and Metabolism
Secondary Section: 22, Cellular and Developmental Biology
Membership Type: Member (elected 1999)

Biosketch

C. Ronald Kahn is a world-recognized expert in diabetes and obesity, and preeminent investigator in the areas of insulin signal transduction and mechanisms of altered signaling in diabetes and metabolic disease. Dr. Kahn is Chief Academic Officer and Head of the Section on Integrative Physiology and Metabolism at Joslin Diabetes Center and the Mary K. Iacocca Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Kahn served as Research Director of Joslin from 1981 to 2000 and President from 2000 through 2007.  Dr. Kahn has received more than 70 awards and honors, including the Wolf Prize in Medicine, Kober Medal of the AAP and the highest honors of the American Diabetes Association, U.S. and British Endocrine Societies, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, European Association for the Study of Diabetes and the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists. He has been elected to the National Academy of Science and National Academy of Medicine. He has authored more than 700 original publications and 200 reviews and chapters.  Dr. Kahn holds undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Louisville. He also holds an honorary Master of Science from Harvard, honorary Doctorates from the University of Paris, University of Louisville, University of Geneva, Washington University in St. Louis, Louisiana State University, and the University of Copenhagen and is an honorary Professor at Peking University School of Medicine.

Research Interests

My laboratory has been investigating the mechanism of insulin action and its alterations in insulin resistant states, including type 2 diabetes, obesity and metabolic syndrome for over 35 years.  There are four major areas of research: 1) Understanding insulin action and insulin resistance. In this area we have projects focusing on the insulin receptor itself, the insulin receptor substrate proteins and the kinase pathways downstream IRS proteins, which are central to insulin's metabolic actions. In this area, we have made multiple genetically modified mice, as well as genetically modified cell lines. 2) Adipose tissue development and function, how it affects insulin sensitivity and risk of metabolic disease. We are also studying the role of exosomally-secreted miRNAs from adipose tissue as a novel mechanism of inter-tissue communication. 3) Environmental modifiers of insulin sensitivity, especially the role of diet and the gut microbiome. In this area, we are particularly interested in metabolite changes as circulating mediators of microbial effects. 4) The role of insulin signaling in in the brain, aging and age-related diseases, including neurodegeneration, mood, and behavior.

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