"Being at Genentech is like drinking from a fire hose. You are surrounded by incredibly smart and capable people and resources that are unparalleled in academia or industry.
I hope to perform innovative science that impacts the treatment of patients."
I joined Genentech after a 25 year career in academia as the Head of Immunology at Washington University and as an HHMI investigator. I got to know Genentech during a six-month sabbatical where I worked with the Oncology and Structural Biology groups studying protein kinases. I saw first hand the high quality of science that is performed at Genentech and how smart the people are and how well the company is organized both for innovative science and discovery and the implementation of discoveries to develop innovative and novel treatments. For someone like me, who has been interested in translating basic science to a better understanding and treatment of disease, I can’t think of a better place than Genentech. The opportunities at Genentech are so great, I didn’t hesitate to take the opportunity to join this company.
Post Doctoral Mentor
I consider that one of the most enjoyable and important parts of my job is training post-doctoral fellows and my trainees have gone on to careers in both academia and industry. I want my post-docs to work and think independently and to develop their own scientific styles. My philosophy is to craft projects that play to the strengths and interests of both the post-doc and me. Post-docs are the engine of new knowledge and discovery and are important part of the success of Genentech.
For 25 years, the major focus of my laboratory has been in signal transduction mechanisms with a major interest in protein kinases and pseudokinases. About 10% of the kinome are pseudokinases and we hypothesize that both pseudokinases and kinases have important non-catalytic functions. We hope that understanding the non-catalytic function of kinases and pseudokinases will lead to a better understanding of how they function and lead to insights into strategies to inhibit their function. We use a variety of tools including biochemistry, structural biology and mouse models to address these issues.
A second area of interest is using new imaging methods to visualize signaling processes in immune cells. Signal transduction is mainly studied biochemically as the average of thousands or millions of cells. We hope to interrogate signaling at the single cell level in vivo by developing mouse models that incorporate biosensors that would allow us to detect activation of multiple signaling events using state of the art, imaging techniques.
Lastly, because of a serendipitous finding in a knockout mouse, we have also had a serious interest in the molecular basis of chronic kidney diseases, a major unmet medical need. The ability to develop new treatments that ameliorate or attenuate kidney failure will require a better understanding of why and how kidneys fail. Our ideas include identifying genetic, environmental and cell biological triggers for cell death and injury in the kidney and developing methods/biomarkers for assessing kidney health and disease.