William Kaelin is a professor in the department of medicine at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School. He was awarded the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his research into how cells sense and adapt to changing oxygen levels. A Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator since 1998, William seeks to understand how, mechanistically, mutations affecting tumor-suppressor genes such as VHL, RB1 and p53 cause cancer. His long-term goal is to lay the foundation for new anticancer therapies based on the biochemical functions of such proteins. His work on the VHL protein helped to motivate the successful clinical testing of VEGF inhibitors for the treatment of kidney cancer as well ongoing trials of a HIF2 inhibitor for this disease. In addition, this line of investigation led to ongoing clinical trials of drugs that stabilize HIF2 for the treatment of anemia.
William is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Medicine, the American Society of Clinical Investigation and the American College of Physicians. He recently served on the National Cancer Institute’s board of scientific advisors, the American Association of Cancer Research’s (AACR) board of trustees and the Institute of Medicine National Cancer Policy Board. He is a recipient of numerous awards, including the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award, which he received in 2016.
William obtained his undergraduate degree and doctor of medicine from Duke University and completed his training in internal medicine at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, where he served as chief medical resident. He was a clinical fellow in medical oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and later a postdoctoral fellow and McDonnell Scholar in David Livingston’s laboratory.