Endowed Lectures

There are three endowed lectures given annually by outstanding scientists in the areas of the Biophysics of Excitable Membranes and Membrane Transport. The lectures honor three distinguished scientists who are former members of the faculty of the Department of Cellular and Molecular Physiology.

Louis H. Nahum, M.D., born in Lithuania, moved with his family to Hartford, CT at the age of three. He obtained both his undergraduate and medical degree from Yale. He was a house officer at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York and thereafter obtained subspecialty training in Cardiology at the Rockefeller Institute with Dr. Alfred Kohn. He returned to New Haven hoping to start a cardiac clinic at Yale. However, he was quickly rebuffed by then Dean Milton Winternitz, who felt that there was no heart specialty, only medicine. This rejection proved to be a boon for Yale’s Physiology Department. Dr. Nahum turned to Harold Himwich, the Professor of Physiology, to start part-time work in the Physiology Laboratory in 1928. He would start his day at seven in the morning in the laboratory, while keeping his private practice going during the day and at night. With Harold Himwich, Louis Nahum reported in 1929 that glucose is the primary fuel of the brain, which constituted a major contribution to our understanding of cerebral metabolism. After Himwich left Yale, Louis Nahum set up his own laboratory, where he studied the causal role of the autonomic nervous system in various cardiac arrhythmias. He became a consultant in medicine at Yale-New Haven Hospital, the Hospital of St. Raphael, the Griffin Hospital, the Middlesex Hospital and the Milford Hospital. He became a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and of the Council in Clinical Cardiology of the American Heart Association.

Dr. Nahum’s contributions to education were numerous. He taught a graduate course in cardiovascular physiology, which he continued even after becoming Lecturer emeritus in physiology. After World War II he was one of a group of founders who created a new medical school in the Bronx, and it was Dr. Nahum who convinced Dr. Albert Einstein that it would be appropriate for the new medical school to carry his name. After the medical school opened in 1955, Dr. Nahum was a guest lecturer in Physiology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine for more than a decade. As Editor of Connecticut Medicine, Dr. Nahum received great acclaim from his physician colleagues for his editorials. Even at the age of 79 he wrote medical, scientific and sociological editorials that were gems of distillation of the essentials gleaned from recent medical literature and events.

A very gentle man with a bit of old-world courtliness, Dr. Nahum watched over the musical career of his wife Stella with great attention and love. For many years after the death of Louis Nahum, Mrs. Nahum attended the departmental Louis H. Nahum Memorial Lecture in the general area of cardiovascular physiology. The Department of Cellular and Molecular Physiology is extremely grateful for the on-going involvement and support of the Nahum family.

Leslie Vosshall


"Understanding and Modulating Mosquito Attraction to Humans" 

Leslie Vosshall, PhD, The Rockefeller University. April 20, 2017

Martin Chalfie


"Determining Neuronal Cell Fate in C. elegans” 

Martin Chalfie, PhD., Biological Sciences, Columbia University. March 10, 2016.


"Listening to Lac Permease: Dissecting the Structure and Function of an Ion-Coupled Transport Protein" 

H. Ronald Kaback, M.D., Department of Physiology, University of California, Los Angeles. April 11, 2012.


"Biophysics of Short-Term Synaptic Plasticity" 

Erwin Neher, Ph.D., 1991 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry. February 24, 2011.

Roger Tsien at Nobel Prize press conference


"Genetically encoded or synthetic molecules to spy on cells and tumors" 

Roger Y. Tsien, Ph.D., 2008 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Department of Pharmacology, University of California San Diego. March 11, 2010.

Francisco Bezanilla


"How Voltage Gated Channels Sense Voltage"

Francisco Bezanilla, Ph.D., University of Chicago. April 2, 2009.


Roderick Mackinnon, Ph.D.


Henry Lester, PhD.


John Nicholls, PhD.

Robert W. Berliner, MD., made major contributions to the foundations or modern renal physiology, and played key roles in shaping American biomedical science. Dr. Berliner and his colleagues were instrumental in elucidating the main features of K+ excretion by the kidney, demonstrating that K is secreted into the urine in exchange for a luminal counter-ion (Na+). They presented one of the earliest cell transport models of the renal tubule. Their pioneering work helped establish early concepts of how K+, Na+, and H+ are transported by the kidney and provided the foundations for later work on single tubules and tubule cells.

Dr. Berliner also was a major force in making the NIH one of the leading biomedical scientific institutions in the world. He was invited to join the NIH in 1950 to build the Laboratory of Kidney and Electrolyte Metabolism, and was the Chief of the Laboratory from 1950 to 1962. Dr. Berliner not only did much of his pioneering research in renal physiology at this time, but also was successful in attracting to his laboratory and inspiring a large number of excellent investigators, from both the USA and abroad. He served as Director of Intramural Research of the Heart Institute between 1954 and 1968; and later was appointed the NIH Deputy Director for Science. Dr. Berliner left the NIH in 1913 to become Dean of the Yale University School of Medicine. He was concurrently Professor of Physiology and of Medicine. After his tenure as Dean ended in 1984, Dr. Berliner remained active in the Yale community as Dean Emeritus and Professor Emeritus. His activities also included serving as Director or the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences between 1984 and 1991.

A native of New York, Dr. Berliner did his undergraduate work at Yale College, after which he went on to Columbia University for his medical education. He did his house staff training at Presbyterian Hospital and Goldwater Memorial Hospital in New York, and later began his research career at Goldwater. In 1947, he became an assistant professor of Medicine at Columbia University, before moving on to the NIH in 1950.

Dr. Berliner was the recipient of numerous honors and awards. These include the Homer W. Smith Award (1965), the Ray G. Daggs Award (1982), the George M. Kober Medal (1984), and election to the National Academy of Sciences (1968). Dr. Berliner was also active in several scholarly societies, serving as president of the American Society for Clinical Investigation (1959), the American Physiological Society (1967), and the American Society of Nephrology (1968).

A brilliant investigator and academic leader, Dr. Berliner was widely recognized for his integrity and modesty. A devoted husband and father, Dr. Berliner's diverse range of interests included music, birds, puzzles, the New York Mets, arid Yale football. All who have known him or known of him will always be inspired by his example.

Walter Boron


“Regulation of Acid-Base Transport in the Renal Proximal Tubule…and Beyond"

Walter F. Boron, MD, PhD, Department of Physiology & Biophysics, Case Western Reserve University, Thursday, March 22, 2019

Mark D. Okusa, MD


“Immunoregulatory Role of the Tissue Microenvironment in Kidney Injury"

Mark D. Okusa, MD, Division of Nephrology, University of Virginia School of Medicine, Thursday, March 8, 2018

Paul Welling


"Protecting Potassium at all Costs. Molecules to Man" 

Paul A. Welling, MD, University of Maryland, April 17, 2017

David Ellison


“Potassium-Sensing by the Distal Nephron"

David H. Ellison, MD Department of Medicine, Physiology & Pharmacology Oregon Health & Science University

2014 & 2013

2014  Harry C Dietz, III

2013 Anita Aperia


"A Journey from Tubules to Cysts" 

Peter Igarashi, M.D., Department of Internal Medicine/Nephrology, University of Minnesota. March 22, 2012.


"The Glomerular Filter: From Genes and Microstructure to Understanding Function and Disease" 

Karl Tryggvason, M.D., Ph.D., Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics, Karolinska Institute. March 17, 2011.

David Clapham


"Navigating through Channels" 

David E. Clapham, M.D., Ph.D., Department of Neurobiology, Harvard Medical School. March 4, 2010.

Lisa Satlin


"The Renal BK Channel: A Sleeping Giant Awakened" 

Lisa M. Satlin, M.D., Chief of Pediatric Nephrology at Mount Sinai Medical Center. May 14, 2009.


2008 Michael Welsh

2007 Jared Grantham 

2006 Christopher Wilcox 

2005 Qais Al-Awqati 

2004 Peter C. Agre 

2003 Thomas J. Jentsch 

2002 Rene Bindels 

2001 Jürgen Schnermann

Dr. Peter E. Curran, the distinguished physiologist, died on October 16, 1974 at the age of 42. At the time of his death he was professor of physiology and director of the Division of Biological Sciences at Yale. He was born on November 5, 1931 in Waukesha, Wisconsin. He received his M.A. from Harvard College in 1953 and his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1958, where he worked until he was called to Yale in 1967. His productive but all too brief professional career was rich with achievement and recognition. He was a brilliant and original scientist who effectively combined experiment with theory and made milestone advances in our understanding of solute and water across epithelial tissues.

The high esteem with which Dr. Curran was held by his colleagues is reflected in the host of activities in which he was engaged. He was chairman of the Publications Committee of the American Physiological Society (1971-74), section Editor for Gastrointestinal Physiology of the American Journal of Physiology (1968-71), and served conscientiously on several other journal editorial boards. He was president of the Society of General Physiologists (1972 -73) and a council member of the American Physiological Society and the Biophysical Society. He was a member of the Molecular Biology Panel of the National Science Foundation, the Biological Sciences Training Committee of the National Institutes, of Health and was chairman (1974) of the Physiological Study Section of the National Institutes of Health. In all of these capacities he worked with distinction and devotion. Peter Curran's untimely death prevents us from ever knowing the full potential of his gifts or the heights to which he may have risen. His many friends, students and colleagues cherish their association with him. His talent, insight and selfless energies have been sorely missed.

Jue Che, Ph.D.


CFTR, the Odd ABC Transporter Responsible for Cystic Fibrosis” 

Jue Chen, Ph.D. Laboratory of Membrane Biology and Biophysics The Rockefeller University. December 7, 2017

Poul Nissen


“A Molecular Perspective of Ion Pumps in Health and Disease”

Poul Nissen, Ph.D., Molecular Biology and Genetics Aarhus University


"Molecules in Motion: Activation and Inactivation of Store-Operated Calcium Channels" 

Richard S. Lewis, Ph.D., Department of Molecular & Cellular Physiology, Stanford University. December 8, 2011.


"Molecular and Cellular Choreography in the Immune Response" 

Michael D. Cahalan, Ph.D., Department of Physiology and Biophysics, University of California, Irvine. October 5, 2010.


"The Sodium/Iodide Symporter (NIS): An Unending Source of Surprises" 

Nancy Carrasco, M.D., Department of Molecular Pharmacology, Yale School of Medicine. October 15, 2009.


2008 Henry Sackin 

2006 Richar C. Boucher 

2002 Paul de Weer 

2002 H. Ronald Kaback

2001 Janos K. Lanyi 

2000 David MacLennan