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William G. Kaelin, Jr., MD

Professor of Medicine
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and
Brigham and Women’s Hospital,
Harvard Medical School
Boston, Massachusetts

Current Research

  • Seeking new targeted approaches to prevent cancer progression and metastasis.

  • Laboratory studies are conducted to identify and test novel drugs in models of triple negative and estrogen receptor positive breast cancers.

  • This research promises to advance breast cancer treatment in novel and innovative ways.

Enzymes are proteins that accelerate chemical reactions in cells and are popular targets for drug development. Dr. Kaelin's laboratory studies a large family of enzymes called dioxygenases that are sensitive to oxygen.

His group has identified a new means of regulation of a critical oxygen-sensitive enzyme that can go awry in triple negative breast cancer, a very aggressive disease. In the course of this work they developed a new technology for identifying molecules that destabilize proteins, which will enable them to develop new strategies to improve response to targeted therapies.

They are now applying this technology to the estrogen receptor, including forms of the estrogen receptor that have become resistant to drugs such as tamoxifen, and continue to explore the role ofdioxygenases on tumor cell growth, drug resistance, and metastasis.


William G. Kaelin, Jr., MD obtained his undergraduate and MD degrees from Duke University and completed 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 David Livingston’s laboratory, during which time he was a McDonnell Scholar. A Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator since 1998, Dr. Kaelin is also currently a Professor in the Department of Medicine at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School and Associate Director, Basic Science, for the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center.

Dr. Kaelin is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, the American Society of Clinical Investigation and the American College of Physicians. He recently served on the NCI Board of Scientific Advisors, the AACR Board of Trustees, and the Institute of Medicine National Cancer Policy Board. He is a recipient of the Paul Marks Prize for cancer research from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center; the Rosenthal Prize from the AACR; a Doris Duke Distinguished Clinical Scientist award; the 2010 Canada International  Gairdner Award; ASCI’s Stanley J. Korsmeyer Award; the Scientific Grand Prix the Foundation Lefoulon-Delalande; the Wiley Prize in Biomedical Sciences, and the Steven C. Beering Award; the 2016 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award; the Katherine Berkan Judd Award;  and the Helis Award.

BCRF Investigator Since


Area(s) of Focus