Biography: Barbara Kahn, MD

Barbara Kahn, MD
  • George R. Minot Professor of Medicine
  • Harvard Medical School
  • Vice Chair, Department of Medicine
  • Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
  • Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Boston, MA

Barbara Kahn, MD is the George R. Minot Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Vice-Chair for Research Strategy in the Department of Medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and a Senior Associate member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. Dr. Kahn is a world-renowned physician-scientist whose pioneering research has elucidated molecular mechanisms underlying type 2 diabetes and the cellular and physiologic processes that link obesity with diabetes. Her research unveiled the now well-accepted fact that adipose is an endocrine organ. Using molecular tools, genetic engineering in mice, and human studies, Dr. Kahn identified novel pathways by which adipocytes regulate systemic insulin sensitivity and the risk for type 2 diabetes. Recently, Dr. Kahn discovered an exciting new class of lipids with anti-diabetic and anti-inflammatory effects that could lead to new treatment approaches for Type 2 diabetes. Among Dr. Kahn’s other breakthroughs is discovering the role of AMP-activated-protein kinase in systemic fuel metabolism, which inaugurated major conceptual advances in understanding the regulation of energy expenditure, appetite control and the mechanisms underlying obesity.

Dr. Kahn received her MD from Stanford University and an MS in Health Sciences from the University of California at Berkeley. She did a General Medicine Fellowship at the University of California Davis and an Endocrine Fellowship at NIH. She was Chief of the Diabetes Unit at BIDMC from 1990-2000 and Chief of the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism from 2000-2011. Dr. Kahn has received many awards including the Outstanding Scientific Achievement Award and the Mosenthal Award from the American Diabetes Association (ADA); the Jacobaeus Prize from the Novo Nordisk Foundation and the Karolinska Institute; the Charles Best Award from University of Toronto; and the Gerald Aurbach Award from Endocrine Society. In 2016, she received the Banting Medal for Scientific Achievement which is the highest science award bestowed by the ADA. In 2017, Dr. Kahn was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Dr. Kahn is also an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine, the American Society for Clinical Investigation and Association of American Physicians and a Fellow of the AAAS. Dr. Kahn has been ranked in the top 1% of physicians nationwide in Endocrinology and Metabolism.

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