Polycystic Kidney and Liver Disease Researcher to Receive Homer W. Smith Award

Stefan Somlo

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Acclaimed researcher Stefan Somlo, MD, will receive the Homer W. Smith Award and deliver an address on Friday, Nov. 8, of Kidney Week. He will speak on “Polycystic Kidney and Liver Diseases: From Gene Discovery to Mechanism.”

Dr. Somlo is C.N.H. Long Professor of Medicine (Nephrology) and professor of genetics at the Yale University School of Medicine. The Homer W. Smith Award recognizes individuals who contribute to our basic understanding of how the kidneys function in health and disease, and Dr. Somlo’s contributions have greatly advanced our knowledge of human polycystic diseases.

Dr. Somlo’s seminal contributions to the fields of polycystic kidney disease (PKD) and liver disease began with disease gene discoveries in the pre-genome era. His later studies yielded insights into the genetic mechanisms of PKD, the functions of polycystins, and the innovative application of genetically complex animal models to in vivo and preclinical discoveries in PKD. Dr. Somlo’s laboratory identified the second gene for dominant polycystic kidney disease and two genes for familial forms of polycystic liver disease without kidney cysts. His group was part of a consortium that identified the recessive polycystic kidney disease gene.

Dr. Somlo’s laboratory translated these gene discoveries into mechanistic studies of polycystic diseases using biochemical, cell biological, and in vivo approaches. Much of his laboratory’s efforts have focused on defining disease pathogenesis using mouse models of polycystic diseases. Their work has also explored the effects of discrete signaling pathways in cyst formation and the genetic interrelationships between different polycystic disease genes.

Dr. Somlo has headed the section of nephrology at Yale since 2003. He has led a cross-disciplinary, multi-investigator polycystic disease research program at Yale and has developed clinical and translational components to implement his findings in basic science. He serves as an elected councilor for the Association of American Physicians and received the Lillian Jean Kaplan International Prize for Polycystic Kidney Disease Research.

Dr. Somlo is a graduate of Harvard College and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University. He did his clinical training at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Yale and was on the faculty at Albert Einstein before returning to Yale.

Homer W. Smith

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Homer W. Smith was chairman of physiology at the University of Virginia before moving in 1928 to New York University (NYU). As director of the Physiology Laboratories at NYU, he developed and refined the concepts of glomerular filtration and tubular absorption and secretion of solutes.

The clarity of Dr. Smith’s logic and the skill with which he explained his ideas transformed them into vivid and powerful concepts that are the cornerstones of our present understanding of normal and abnormal renal function. He attracted the best and brightest to the field, to NYU, and to the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory, where he spent many summers studying renal physiology in fish.

The Homer W. Smith award recognizes individuals who contribute to our basic understanding of how the kidneys function in health and disease.


October-November 2013 (Vol. 5, Number 10 & 11)