From the beginning of his career, Lloyd Cantley, MD, has enthusiastically pursued teaching and mentoring. As a fellow at Harvard University, he taught medical students; today, in addition to his appointment as co-director of education, he teaches physiology case conferences to first year medical students, which he has done for the last 15 years. “I love watching the light bulb come on when something makes sense to people,” he said.
Dr. Cantley is a noted nephrologist who studies the mechanisms of renal tubule formation and repair. He has mentored about 40 trainees in his lab, where he studies the mechanisms by which kidney cell regeneration occurs following acute kidney injury in to order to develop therapies to enhance this process. During the last decade or so, he has focused on how the immune response to kidney injury regulates the repair process. He has shown that the immune system is abnormally activated in polycystic kidney disease and that this accelerates cyst growth in mouse models. His goal is to identify pathways that would be logical targets for drug therapy to either accelerate normal repair in the case of acute kidney injury or block repair pathways in polycystic kidney disease or chronic kidney disease. He is conducting preclinical trials in mice and is in the process of defining targets, some of which may be suitable for existing drugs for other diseases.
As he has transitioned into a senior researcher, Dr. Cantley increasingly recognizes the importance of guiding the next generation of investigators. He views his role at YCCI as mentoring on a larger scale in which he has the opportunity to guide young investigators on how to become successful researchers, in much the same way that clinician educators guide residents. He is interested in the approach young faculty members take in answering research questions and relishes the chance to offer a fresh perspective on their work, which is often outside the area of his expertise.
“At some point, you start seeing your trainees succeed and realize you’re impacting them, just as others impacted you,” he said. “I was inspired by my mentors, so it’s my turn to inspire the next generation.”