Caron named inaugural chair of department of cell biology and physiology

Kathleen Caron, PhD, is associate professor of cell biology and physiology and genetics. Her research focuses on vascular biology and modeling human diseases in mice. She has served as assistant dean for research for the School of Medicine since 2010.

September 2013 - Dr. William Roper, Dean of the UNC School of Medicine, has announced Kathleen Caron, PhD, associate professor of cell biology and physiology and genetics, as the new chair of the department of cell biology and physiology, effective October 1, 2013. The department was formed in July 2012 and has been served by two interim co-chairs, Carol Otey, PhD, and Patrick Brennwald, PhD.

“I am pleased that Dr. Caron has accepted our offer to lead the department,” said Dr. Roper. “It is a well-funded, successful program that we expect to continue to thrive under her leadership.”

Dr. Caron is charged with providing academic and administrative leadership for the research and teaching programs of the department. She will be responsible for the financial health of the department, as well as the recruitment of new faculty to further the missions of the department and the School of Medicine.

“We are fortunate to have recruited Dr. Caron to this very important position,” said Dr. Marschall Runge, executive dean of the School of Medicine. “She is an outstanding scientist and leader. She is an ideal choice to further integrate these two outstanding departments – Cell Biology and Physiology –into a single cohesive and productive department.”

With about 40 faculty members, the department of cell biology and physiology is now the largest basic science department in the School of Medicine. It ranks fourth in the nation in NIH funding.

“Our department has terrific strengths in the areas of neurosciences, cell biology and imaging and cardiovascular sciences,” said Dr. Caron. “I look forward to building on those strengths and working with existing and new faculty to expand into new research areas, such as diabetes and endocrinology, degenerative diseases and aging.”

“For me, one of the most exciting aspects of this position will be the opportunity to build partnerships with other units and centers,” said Dr. Caron. Our collegial spirit is something that I have always treasured. Not only does it provide us with a compelling atmosphere for recruiting the very best scientists, but it also forms the foundation for building innovative and integrative scientific teams.”

Dr. Caron’s laboratory currently uses sophisticated gene-targeting approaches to model human disease in mice. With a special emphasis on vascular biology, the Caron laboratory has gained valuable insights into the genetic basis and pathophysiology of lymphatic vascular disease, preeclampsia and gender-dependent cardiovascular disease. Dr. Caron serves as co-PI on an Integrative Vascular Biology Training Grant with Dr. Nobuyo Maeda. She is associate editor of the Journal of Clinical Investigation and serves on the editorial board of Molecular Endocrinology.

Upon assuming her duties as chair, Dr. Caron will step down from her role as assistant dean for research, a position she has held since 2010. She will continue to serve as a symposium organizer for the annual Oliver Smithies Nobel Lecture Series.

Dr. Caron has received numerous awards including a Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award in the Biomedical Sciences, an Established Investigator Award from the American Heart Association and a Jefferson Pilot Award in Biomedical Sciences. She is a founding member of the NIH/NICHD Collaborative Team on Implantation Biology.

Dr. Caron graduated from Emory University with a BS in Biology and a BA in Philosophy. She completed her PhD in Cell Biology at Duke University. She joined the lab of Nobel Laureate Oliver Smithies as a post-doctoral fellow here at UNC in 1997.