The Wallace H. Coulter Lectureship Award
Endowed by the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation
Dr. Kahn is the Mary K. Iacocca Professor at Harvard Medical School and chief academic officer of Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston. He was head of the section on cellular and molecular physiology at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases before joining Joslin as research director in 1981. He rose to serve as its president from 2000 to 2007. Under his leadership, Joslin’s research program grew more than 20-fold, clinical and educational activity tripled, and new corporate alliances extended Joslin’s mission to a national level. A preeminent investigator of insulin signal transduction and mechanisms of altered signaling in disease, Dr. Kahn’s work revolutionized the field. His laboratory’s many seminal discoveries include the insulin receptor kinase, its two primary substrates, and the molecular components of the insulin signaling network. He was the first to define alterations in this signaling network in insulin-resistant states such as type 2 diabetes. Recently, discoveries in Dr. Kahn’s laboratory have begun to reshape our understanding of obesity and the role of insulin and diabetes in the brain. This work includes demonstrating that adipocytes in different depots may have different developmental origins and different cellular functions that lead to risk of metabolic disease. His work demonstrating that adult humans have active brown fat has also been central to redefining its role in metabolic regulation and protection from obesity. Dr. Kahn’s many honors include receiving the highest scientific awards of the American Diabetes Association, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, European Association for the Study of Diabetes, the British diabetes and endocrine societies, International Diabetes Federation, American Federation of Clinical Research, and the Endocrine Society. Dr. Kahn has served on many national commissions and advisory boards, including as chair of the congressionally established Diabetes Research Working Group. He has also served as president of the American Society of Clinical Investigation.