Encouraged to pursue patenting and licensing, Dr Kennedy learned important lessons in relevant industry and commercialization practices
University where PhD was obtained: I obtained my Ph.D. from Joe Shapiro’s laboratory at the Medical College of Ohio in 2006.
Duration of training and lab: I joined Roy Silverstein’s lab in 2007 as part of the David and Lindsay Morgenthaler Endowed Fellowship. After my post-doc I joined Wilson Tang’s lab in 2011 as a Research Associate and then as a Project Scientist in 2015.
Work at Lerner: While I was a post-doc in Roy Silverstein’s lab I worked on investigating the role of adipocyte and macrophage scavenger receptor CD36 in the development of inflammation and insulin resistance associated with obesity. In Wilson Tang’s lab I worked on his funded clinical translational projects on nitrative stress in heart failure and with his support was also able to develop my own funded projects on Na+/K+ ATPase biology.
Successes while at Lerner: During my time at Lerner I was fortunate to publish 14 papers and be funded by a Post-doctoral Fellowship from the American Heart Association (2009), a Scientist Development Grant (2014) as well as Cleveland Clinic Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) and Research Program Committee Awards which were instrumental in launching my career. Equally important were the William E. Lower Award for Basic Science Research and Elsa Albrecht Fellow Award of which I received second place for both awards. I keep those plaques prominently displayed in my office as it's a great reminder that there are lots of people who are much smarter than I am!
New position title: In 2015 I transitioned to a tenure track faculty position in the Department of Medicine at the University Of Toledo College Of Medicine and was recently promoted to Associate Professor with Tenure.
New role description: In addition to teaching in the undergraduate, graduate and medical school I co-direct both the undergraduate and the medical school’s research curriculum on our Health Science Campus. I also run a research lab which studies how interrelated organ systems such as heart, kidney and liver regulate cellular damage (particularly inflammation and fibrosis) and repair during the course of chronic ailments such as hypertension and chronic kidney disease. Given our community’s ties to and dependence on the Great Lakes as a source of clean water for drinking, recreation, fishing and agriculture, our laboratory also places a special emphasis on discovering new diagnostic, preventative and therapeutic strategies targeting cellular damage caused by environmental stressors which impair our water systems. I would say, without a doubt, working with and training students is the highlight of my day. We have a wonderful mix of undergraduate, graduate and medical students in the lab, and it is a privilege to be a part of their personal and professional development. One of my outstanding students, Robin Su, came to me from my friend Dr. Chris Moravec’s lab. He just successfully defended his dissertation this Spring and is now starting the clinical portion of his MD/PhD. So my Lerner connections remain strong and I look forward to more in the future.
Preparations provided at Lerner: My mentors were excellent in encouraging my professional development and providing me with exceptional training opportunities. While I was a post-doc in Roy Silverstein’s lab, he encouraged me to pursue patenting and licensing a novel protein detection method which exposed me to important and relevant industry and commercialization practices. Wilson Tang taught me the importance of maintaining close ties between my research and clinically important problems and he also significantly broadened and deepened the translational aspects of my work. He also encouraged me to teach in the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine which was invaluable experience for the teaching aspects of my current role.
Reflecting on time at Lerner: Of course I miss the people and good friends I made across the board at LRI– the scientists, core facilities staff, the maintenance crew and so many others. The camaraderie was exceptional and I still keep in touch with many of my friends who trained with me or worked there. One of my closest friends from Lerner, Dr. Bruce Levison, recently passed away and it was beautiful to see the outpouring of love and support from all of the good people in Lerner whom he touched. May his memory be a blessing.
Advice for current Lerner postdocs: Learn the names of all the people you work with – from custodians to colleagues – and take time to be genuine and friendly with them all, you will never regret it.