Gary Desir M.D. is the Beeson Professor of Medicine at the Yale University School of Medicine (YSM) and serves as chair of the Department of Internal Medicine at YSM, and chair of the board of Yale Medicine.
He is a physician-scientist whose work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Health, Department of Veterans Affairs, American Heart Association, and the Robert Wood Johnson foundation. His major contributions to science include the discovery a specific voltage-gated potassium channel that regulates body weight and insulin sensitivity, and the identification of a new growth factor, which he named renalase. He elucidated the pathway through which renalase affects cellular signaling and discovered that the protein can function abnormally and facilitate the development of certain cancers. Hi laboratory is currently focused on developing drugs that can treat cancer by blocking the action of renalase in cancer cells. Dr. Desir is a named inventor on several patents related to the discovery and therapeutic use of renalase, and the development of drugs that modulate renalase signaling in cancer. He is the scientific founder of 2 biotechnology companies focused on developing renalase-based therapies.
Dr. Desir, the first person of African descent to be appointed as chair of a department at the Yale School of Medicine, has a strong interest in issues of diversity and social justice. He is the co-founder of the minority organization for retention and expansion (MORE), a faculty group at YSM focused on increasing faculty diversity through mentoring programs and developing resilient social networks. In collaboration with Gordon Geballe, Associate Dean for Alumni and External Affairs at the School of the Environment, he has worked with L’Hospital Albert Schweitzer in the Artibonite valley in Haiti on integrated projects designed to improve the standard of living in the valley.
He was born in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti. After high school, he immigrated to the US to attend New York University, from which he graduated magna cum laude, with a bachelor’s degree in biology. He was elected to the Phi Beta Kappa Society, and also received New York University’s Founders Day award. Following graduation from Yale University School of Medicine (Cum Laude, Alpha Omega Alpha honor society), he trained in internal medicine and nephrology at Yale New Haven Hospital.