Professor Stephen O’Rahilly’s research has led to an increased understanding of the genetic causes of human obesity and insulin resistance. Using modern biochemical approaches and classical clinical observation in humans with profound metabolic disorders, O’Rahilly, from the Departments of Medicine and Clinical Biochemistry at the University of Cambridge, has shown that a person’s appetite and feeding behavior can be linked to specific genes. His work has challenged long-held dogmas and led to new treatment avenues. The full interview includes many more stories about how you can learn more from reading Chekhov than medical school and why he has stayed in Cambridge all these years.
More than almost any other scientist in the field of obesity and metabolism research, the work of Bruce Spiegelman, from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School, has informed potential targets for drug discovery that could burn fat and even turn fat into muscle. He was the first to suggest that inflammation underscores insulin resistance, and also the first to find the key regulator of adipogenesis, PPAR-γ.
If you, or someone you know, has Parkinson’s disease, mental health issues, or other neurological disorders, medication can often help. The bulk of these medications have been established based on the work of neuroscientist Paul Greengard from the Rockefeller University, who worked out just how the brain responds to neurotransmitters — the chemicals that help the brain signal. Most of what most neuroscientists know today about neurotransmission, and specifically the dynamics of slow synaptic transmission, is predicated on the work of Dr. Greengard. The interview features stories about his seminal research discoveries and his competitive streak in potato sack races.
Dr. Jeffrey Friedman, of Rockefeller University, has been at the center of discovery of the molecular determinants of why we eat what we eat and, more importantly, why we eat so much of what we eat. Over the last three decades, now almost daily in the media, alarm has been sounded about the growing obesity epidemic. Dr. Friedman has spent his research career engaged in the discovery and characterization of leptin, one of the most important hormones regulating appetite and hunger.
Dr. Eugene Braunwald has often been called the father of modern cardiology. Science Watch has listed Dr. Braunwald as the most frequently cited author in cardiology. Beyond numerous awards and 20 honorary degrees, he was the first cardiologist elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Nobel Prize winners in medicine have named Braunwald as the person who has contributed the most to cardiology in recent years. He speaks today about his trajectory from Nazi-occupied Austria through his immigrant struggle in New York City to land as the Chairman of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.