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Whitney Besse, MD

Assistant Professor of Medicine (Nephrology); Course Director, Noon Conference Series, Internal Medicine: Nephrology

Contact Information

Whitney Besse, MD

Mailing Address

  • Yale School of Medicine

    Dept. of Internal Medicine, Section of Nephrology, PO Box 208029

    New Haven, CT 06520

    United States



Dr. Besse received her bachelors degree in Biomedical Engineering from Brown University in 2003, pre-doctoral training in genetics at the Joslin Diabetes Center at the Harvard Medical School, her M.D. from the University of Connecticut School of Medicine in 2009, and clinical training in Internal Medicine/Nephrology at the Yale School of Medicine. Dr. Besse joined Yale School of Medicine faculty in the Department of Internal Medicine, Section of Nephrology in 2018. Her research training in Nephrology has been under the mentorship of Dr. Stefan Somlo, C.N.H Long Professor of Medicine (Nephrology) and Professor of Genetics.

Dr. Besse's field of research interest is genetic kidney diseases, with initial focus on polycystic kidney disease. She uses genetic approaches to identify novel disease genes for dominantly inherited polycystic kidney and liver diseases: a phenotypic spectrum from autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD) to isolated polycystic liver disease (PCLD), and both in vitro and animal models to further disease gene mechanism investigation. Her identification and investigation of multiple genes has contributed understanding to how the central PKD protein, Polycystin-1, matures through the endoplasmic reticulum. She has contributed approaches for gene validation to the field. Dr. Besse has an active research program recruiting patients with genetically unresolved polycystic kidney and/or liver disease or other inherited kidney diseases for projects involving gene/pathway discovery and variant analysis in genetic kidney diseases. The goal of her lab is to have the identification of novel disease genes serve as an entry point for molecular biology investigation that contributes to a better understanding of disease mechanism and the identification of successful targets for treatments.

Education & Training

  • Clinical Fellow, Research Track
    Yale School of Medicine (2015)
  • Resident
    Yale School of Medicine (2012)
  • MD
    University of Connecticut School of Medicine (2009)
  • BS (Hon)
    Brown University, Biomedical Engineering (2003)


  • Polycystic Liver and Kidney Disease: Learning from Genetic Diagnosis in our Patients
    Katz Family Division of Nephrology and Hypertension at the Miller School of Medicine (University of Miami) 2023
    Nephrology Grand Rounds, Katz Family Division of Nephrology and Hypertensionat the Miller School of Medicine (University of Miami)
  • Investigation of disease genes for adult polycystic kidney and liver phenotypes
    Virtual Seminar 2022
    National O'brien Centers Kidney Seminars
  • Cystic Liver Disease
    Berlin, BE, Germany 2022
    TRENAL-EUKISS Summer School Conference
  • The Genetic Basis of Polycystic Kidney and Liver Disease: patient exomes to bench and back again
    Oklahoma City, OK, United States 2022
    University of Oklahoma, Nephrology Conference
  • The Genetic Basis of Polycystic Kidney and Liver Disease: patient exomes to bench and back again
    New York, NY, United States 2022
    Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Nephrology Conference
  • Polycystic and Tubulointerstitial Phenotypes of ER genes in the Kidney
    Virtual International Conference in 2020 due to COVID19 pandemic 2020
    American Society of Nephrology Kidney Week
  • Disease Mechanisms and targets in polycystic kidney and liver disease
    Cambridge, MA, United States 2019
    Renal Pathology and Therapeutic Opportunities: hosted by MPM Capitol Medical and Scientific Advisory Board
  • ALG9 mutation carriers develop kidney and liver cysts
    Washington, DC, United States 2019
    American Society of Nephrology Kidney Week
  • Post-developmental Inactivation of Pkhd1 results in liver cysts in mice
    Atlanta, GA, United States 2018
    American Society of Nephrology Kidney Week
  • Novel Disease Genotypes for Adult Polycystic Kidney and Liver Disease
    Baltimore, MD, United States 2018
    Baltimore Polycystic Kidney Disease Symposium
  • Gene Discovery for Autosomal Dominant Polycystic Liver Disease
    San Diego, CA, United States 2015
    American Society of Nephrology Kidney Week

Honors & Recognition

AwardAwarding OrganizationDate
Young Physician-Scientist AwardAmerican Society for Clinical Investigation2022
Clinical Scientist Development AwardDoris Duke Charitable Foundation2021
Mentored Research AwardRobert E. Leet and Clara Guthrie Patterson Trust2019
Polycystic Kidney Disease Research AwardPolycystic Kidney Disease Foundation2018
Research Fellowship AwardPolycystic Kidney Disease Foundation2015

Professional Service

Yale Center for Genomic HealthFaculty Selection Committee2022 - Present
Committee to Investigate the use of Race Modified in eGFR estimationAd-hoc Member2021 - Present

Departments & Organizations