W. Kimryn Rathmell, Ph.D., M.D.

Hugh Jackson Morgan Chair in Medicine
Professor of Medicine
Chair of the Department of Medicine
Professor of Biochemistry
2220 Pierce Avenue
Preston Research Building, Suite 777

Renal cell carcinoma

Kimryn Rathmell, MD, PhD, is the Hugh Jackson Morgan Professor and Chair of Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC), and Physician-in-Chief for Vanderbilt University Adult Hospital and Clinics. Rathmell earned her PhD in biophysics and MD from Stanford University. Following completion of her MD, she did an Internal Medicine internship at the University of Chicago before attending the University of Pennsylvania where she completed an Internal Medicine residency and Medical Oncology fellowship. She completed postdoctoral training at the University of Pennsylvania, working with Dr. Celeste Simon. A physician-scientist, Rathmell’s work focuses on the treatment and research of complex renal cell carcinomas. Her research has resulted in over 20 years of funding from the National Institutes of Health, and more than 200 articles in leading peer-reviewed journals, including The New England Journal of Medicine, Nature, and the Journal of Clinical Investigation (JCI). In 2015, Rathmell joined VUMC as Professor of Medicine and Director of the Division of Hematology and Oncology, with a secondary appointment in the Department of Biochemistry. In 2019, she was named Deputy Director for Research Integration and Career Development at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center. She served in this role until her appointment as Chair of the Department of Medicine in 2020. Prior to Vanderbilt, Rathmell served on faculty at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) where she was co-director of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Graduate Training Program in Translational Medicine, Associate Director for Training and Education at UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Associate Director and Alexander Family Chair in Translational Research for the Medical Scientist Training Program. She is a member of The Cancer Genome Atlas, winning the American Association for Cancer Research Team Science Award in 2021, and serves on the National Cancer Institute’s Board of Scientific Advisors and on the Forbeck Foundation Scientific Board of Directors. She is a senior editor for eLIFE, and has served on editorial boards for JCI, Kidney Cancer, and JCO-Precision Oncology. She has held leadership positions for the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Kidney Cancer Research Foundation, and the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI), serving as the Secretary-Treasurer, and later President of that organization. As a result of her contributions, Rathmell has been elected to the ASCI, the Association of American Physicians, the American Clinical and Climatological Society, and as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Research Information

As a genitourinary oncologist, I lead the GU oncology disease group clinical and research program, focusing my own research on renal cell carcinoma. Our laboratory is focused on cancers caused by deregulation of the normal hypoxia response pathway. We use clear cell renal cell carcinoma as a model system because virtually all of these tumors display dysregulation of this pathway. This cancer affects over 60,000 new patients annually in the US. Recent molecular discoveries based on understanding the hypoxia response pathway have led to the development of multiple new lines of treatment for this cancer. Our goal is to identify strategies to improve the treatment of cancers dependent on hypoxia pathway activation, or better ways to detect these cancers earlier. Therefore, our research takes a broad approach using genetic techniques to study tumor-initiating events and events that promote the development of invasive or metastatic features using in vitro, animal, and human systems. This translational research, all geared toward enhancing our understanding of the genetics and molecular biology of hypoxia-driven cancers, is folded into a clinical research program at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Vanderbilt Ingram Cancer Center.

Publications on PubMed.gov