Dr. Stuart Kornfeld is the David C. and Betty Farrell Distinguished Professor of Medicine at Washington University in St. Louis. He is best known for his work elucidating the processes governing lysosome biogenesis. His research continues to uncover roles for oligosaccharide biosynthesis, processing, and maturation in mediating proper folding and transport of proteins. In an interview with JCI Editor-at-Large Ushma Neill, Kornfeld discusses how his first biochemistry course, taught by Carl and Gerty Cori, and his work as a postdoctoral researcher in Luis Glaser’s lab led to his interest in the role of sugar moieties in cellular physiology. Kornfeld also discusses his early work with postdoctoral fellows Ira Tabas and Ajit Varki and graduate student Marc Reitman in characterizing the trafficking of lysosomal proteins. Finally, Kornfeld addresses the importance of mentors in the development of physician-scientists.
Dr. Robert Schrier is a nephrologist and Professor of Medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, where he served as Chair of the Department of Medicine and Chief of the Kidney Division for more than 20 years. He is an expert in patient-oriented research on acute kidney injury, autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease, hypertension, and diabetic nephropathy. Dr. Schrier has authored over 1,000 papers and several books and has been continuously funded by the NIH for 45 years. In an interview with JCI Editor-at-Large Ushma Neill, Schrier discusses his love of sports, his studies in Germany as a Fulbright scholar, his decision to go to medical school, and his entry into research at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where he became interested in kidney failure.
Craig Thompson, MD, president and CEO of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, has made fundamental contributions to our understanding of how cells survive and replicate. His current research focuses on the role of metabolic pathways in tumorigenesis. In an interview with JCI Editor at Large Ushma Neill, Thompson discusses the evolution of his research focus. He initially studied platelet physiology while working at the Naval Blood Research Laboratory. Thompson then became a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator studying the processes that regulate cell death and the mechanisms that shape lymphocyte development and immune homeostasis. After moving to the University of Pennsylvania, Thompson began to focus on the role of cellular metabolism in proliferation and survival when he found that elimination of apoptosis in mice did not completely regulate cellular survival. These processes have since been shown to play a critical role in cancer development and progression.
William Paul, M.D., is the NIH Distinguished Investigator and Chief of the Laboratory of Immunology within the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). Paul discovered and characterized the cell signaling cytokine IL-4, demonstrating that IL-4 is required for B cell production of IgE, and determined the requirements for CD4+ T cell differentiation. In an interview with JCI Editor-at-Large Ushma Neill, Paul discusses his early research experiences, as well as the influence of Michael Heidelberger on his decision to study immunology. Paul began his training in immunology in Nobel laureate Baruj Benacerraf’s lab at New York University and then moved with Bennacerraf to the NIH in 1968, where he began to focus on T and B cell biology. His lab has served as a training ground for many noted immunologists, including Laurie Glimcher, Mark Davis, and Charlie Janeway.
In the 1970s and '80s, James Rothman of Yale University bucked all advice on how to do scientific experiments and broke open cells in order to study the way that vesicles are transported. His discovery of the machinery that orchestrates the budding, fusion, and transport of vesicles is key to organelle formation, nutrient uptake, and the secretion of most hormones and neurotransmitters in the body. For this work, Rothman shared the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.