Renowned nephrologist Dr. Alessia Fornoni is elected to the Association of American Physicians
By Richard Westlund
Photography by Eileen Bellow De Arriaza
nternationally renowned physician-scientist Alessia Fornoni, M.D., Ph.D., has been elected to the prestigious Association of American Physicians (AAP). She will be the first nephrologist from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine to be inducted into the association, which includes six other UM faculty members.
“My vision is to bring clinical care, science, industry, and not-for-profit organizations together to deliver new therapies for kidney disease,” said Dr. Fornoni, professor of medicine and molecular and cellular pharmacology, chief of the Katz Family Division of Nephrology and Hypertension, director of the Peggy and Harold Katz Family Drug Discovery Center, and associate director of the Miami Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI).
Through her pioneering work on insulin signaling, cholesterol metabolism and sphingolipid-related pathways, Dr. Fornoni has uncovered new pathogenetic mechanisms leading to kidney disorders. Her discoveries are being translated into new therapies, which have been licensed to start-up companies and are now entering clinical trials.
“I am proud of being a faculty member at the University of Miami, where I can contribute to building a culture for innovation, as scientists, clinicians, and investors collaborate to bring potential new treatments to our unique and diverse patient population,” said Dr. Fornoni, who serves on the advisory board of several companies as well as patients foundations.
Mentorship and role models
Dr. Fornoni was inducted into the AAP on April 9 during its virtual annual meeting. Founded in 1885, the AAP is an elected society of America’s leading physician-scientists, including Nobel laureates and members of the National Academy of Science and the Institute of Medicine. In partnership with the American Society for Clinical Investigation and other societies, AAP offers mentorship and role models for physician-scientists who are in the early years of their careers.
“Mentorship is close to my heart,” said Dr. Fornoni, who advises graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and junior faculty in multiple disciplines. “I support them in advancing on a path for academic achievement that is propelled by their personal passion,” she said.
Dr. Fornoni received the best graduate school mentor of the year award from UM in 2016, the provost’s award for scholarly activities in 2018, and the Women in Academic Medicine leadership award in 2019. Her trainees now occupy key academic and industry positions on five continents.
Dr. Fornoni joined the faculty in 2005. Her research is supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, industry and private foundations. She serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, Diabetes and Kidney International. She has been a visiting professor at more than 50 academic institutions and international meetings worldwide, and her contributions have been published in high-impact professional journals.