Barbara Kahn MD

Barbara B. Kahn is chief of the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and the George Richards Minot Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. She is an internationally recognized scientist in the area of obesity and type 2 diabetes, and her lab investigates the molecular mechanisms underlying these conditions, including the regulation of insulin action, food intake, and energy balance.

Kahn received BA and MD degrees from Stanford University and an MS from the University of California at Berkeley. After completing internal medicine training at the UC Davis Medical Center, she began her career in molecular research at the National Institutes of Health. Kahn has received numerous awards including the Outstanding Scientific Achievement Award from the American Diabetes Association; the H. C. Jacobaeus Prize from the Novo Nordisk Foundation and the Karolinska Institutet; the Charles H. Best Lectureship and Award from the University of Toronto; and the Gerald D. Aurbach Award Lecture from the Endocrine Society. Kahn was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies and is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Kahn has published more than 145 scientific papers and has served on the editorial boards of leading journals including the Journal of Biological Chemistry, Cell Metabolism, The American Journal of Physiology, Endocrinology and Diabetes. Her laboratory has trained numerous research fellows from more than 18 different countries. In addition to her scientific and administrative activities, she maintains a clinical practice at BIDMC.

Research Interests
  • Molecular mechanisms of insulin resistance.
  • Molecular pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes.
  • Pathogenesis of obesity.
  • Insulin action, glucose transport, leptin action, metabolism.
  • The adipocyte as an endocrine organ.
Recent Work
  • Discovered new signaling pathway involved in leptin action - AMP activated protein kinase.
  • Discovered importance of the Glut4 glucose transporter in adipocytes in whole body insulin action.
  • Investigating the role of protein tyrosine phosphatase 1B and other phosphatases in insulin action and body weight regulation.
  • Discovered that PTP1B regulates leptin signaling by dephosphorylating Jak 2.