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William G. Kaelin Jr. (born November 23, 1957) is an American Nobel Laureate who is professor of medicine at Harvard University and the Dana–Farber Cancer Institute. His laboratory studies tumor suppressor proteins. Kaelin is a 2016 recipient of the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research. He also has won the 2016 ASCO Science of Oncology Award and 2016 AACR Princess Takamatsu Award.[2][3] He is a 2019 Nobel laureate in Physiology or Medicine with Peter J. Ratcliffe and Gregg L. Semenza.[4][5]

William Kaelin Jr.
Born (1957-11-23) November 23, 1957 (age 61)
EducationDuke University (BS, MD)
Spouse(s)Carolyn Scerbo
AwardsAlbert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research (2016)
Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (2019)
Scientific career
InstitutionsDana–Farber Cancer Institute
Harvard University

Early life and educationEdit

Kaelin earned his bachelor's degree in mathematics and chemistry at Duke University, and remained for his MD, graduating in 1982. He did his residency in internal medicine at Johns Hopkins University and oncology fellowship at Dana–Farber Cancer Institute. After deciding as an undergraduate that research was not a strength of his, at DFCI he did research in the lab of David Livingston, where he found success in the study of retinoblastoma.[1] In 1992, he set up his own lab at DFCI down the hall from Livingston's where he researched hereditary forms of cancer such as von Hippel–Lindau disease. He became a professor at Harvard Medical School in 2002.[6]


He became Assistant Director of Basic Science at the Dana–Farber/Harvard Cancer Center in 2008. His research at Dana–Farber has focused on understanding the role of mutations in tumor suppressor genes in cancer development. His major work has been on the retinoblastoma, von Hippel–Lindau, and p53 tumor suppressor genes.

His work has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, American Cancer Society, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and others.[7]

He is a member of the board of directors at Eli Lilly[6] and the Stand Up to Cancer scientific advisory committee.[8]


Illustration of how cells sense and adapt to oxygen availability

Following his post-doctorate, Kaelin set up a laboratory at Dana-Farber in 1993 to continue his research on tumor suppression. He had become interested in Von Hippel–Lindau disease (VHL). VHL tumors, caused by gene mutation, were known to be angiogenic, creating blood vessels that secreted erythropoietin (EPO), a hormone known to be part of the body's mechanic to react to hypoxia, or low oxygen levels in the blood. Kaelin hypothesized that there may be a connection between the formation of VHL tumors and the deficiency of the body to detect oxygen.[9] Kaelin's research found that in VHL subjects, there were genes expressed the formation of a protein critical in the EPO process, but which the mutation suppressed. Kaelin's work aligned with that of Peter J. Ratcliffe and Gregg Semenza who separately had identified a two-part protein, hypoxia-inducible factors (HIF) that was essential to EPO production and which was triggered by oxygen levels in the blood. Kaelin's work found that the VHL protein would help regulate the HIF, and in subjects where the VHL proteins were not present, the HIF would overproduce EPO and lead to cancer.[10] The combined work of Kaelin, Ratcliffe, and Semenza identified the pathway of how cells detect and react to oxygen levels in the blood, and have led to the development of drugs to help patients with anaemia and renal failure.[10]

Personal lifeEdit

He was married to breast cancer surgeon Dr. Carolyn Kaelin (Scerbo) from 1988 until her death from cancer in 2015. They have two children.[11]

Selected awardsEdit


  1. ^ a b "William G. Kaelin, Jr., MD -". Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  2. ^ "Dr. William G. Kaelin, Jr., to Receive 2016 Science of Oncology Award". May 26, 2016. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  3. ^ a b "About William Kaelin". Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  4. ^ a b "The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2019". Retrieved October 7, 2019.
  5. ^ Kolata, Gina; Specia, Megan (October 7, 2019). "Nobel Prize in Medicine Awarded for Research on How Cells Manage Oxygen - The prize was awarded to William G. Kaelin Jr., Peter J. Ratcliffe and Gregg L. Semenza for discoveries about how cells sense and adapt to oxygen availability". The New York Times. Retrieved October 8, 2019.
  6. ^ a b "William G. Kaelin, Jr., M.D." Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  7. ^ "Home page kaelin lab". Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  8. ^ "William G. Kaelin Jr., MD". Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  9. ^ Hurst, Jillian H. (September 13, 2016). "William Kaelin, Peter Ratcliffe, and Gregg Semenza receive the 2016 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award". The Journal of Clinical Investigation. 126 (10): 3628–3638. doi:10.1172/JCI90055. ISSN 0021-9738. PMC 5096796. PMID 27620538.
  10. ^ a b Ledford, Heidi; Callaway, Ewen (October 7, 2019). "Biologists who decoded how cells sense oxygen win medicine Nobel". Nature. Retrieved October 9, 2019.
  11. ^ Grady, Denise (August 9, 2015). "Carolyn Kaelin, Breast Cancer Surgeon, Patient Advocate and Patient, Dies at 54". Retrieved April 16, 2017 – via
  12. ^ "AACR Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Memorial Award Recipients". American Association for Cancer Research. Retrieved October 8, 2019.
  13. ^ "2006 Distinguished Clinical Scientist Awards". Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. January 1, 2006. Retrieved October 8, 2019.
  14. ^ "Alumni Awards". Duke University School of Medicine. Retrieved October 8, 2019.
  15. ^ "Two NAM Members Receive Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award". Retrieved October 7, 2019.
  16. ^ "William G. Kaelin Jr". Retrieved October 7, 2019.
  17. ^ "William G. Kaelin Jr". Retrieved October 7, 2019.
  18. ^ . The Journal of Clinical Investigation Retrieved October 8, 2019. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  19. ^ "William G. Kaelin". Institut de France. Grands Prix des Fondations. April 21, 2015. Retrieved December 12, 2017.
  20. ^ "Steven C. Beering Award". Indiana University School of Medicine. Retrieved October 9, 2019.
  21. ^ "The 13th Annual Wiley Prize in Biomedical Sciences Awarded for Advancements in Oxygen Sensing Systems" (PDF). Ludwig Cancer Research. February 14, 2014. Retrieved October 8, 2019.
  22. ^ "William G. Kaelin Jr., MD Class of 2014". American Association for Cancer Research. Retrieved October 8, 2019.
  23. ^ "BCRF Investigators Honored by the American Society for Clinical Oncology". Breast Cancer Research Foundation. June 16, 2016. Retrieved October 8, 2019.
  24. ^ "William G. Kaelin, Jr., MD, receives Princess Takamatsu award from AACR". Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. April 21, 2016. Retrieved October 8, 2019.
  25. ^ "2016 Award Winners". Albert And Mary Lasker Foundation. Retrieved October 7, 2019.
  26. ^ "2018 Massry Prize Laureates". Keck School of Medicine of USC. Retrieved October 7, 2019.