Dr. Kim Barrett received her B.Sc. in Medicinal Chemistry and her Ph.D. in Biological Chemistry from University College London, England. In 1982, she then ventured across ‘the pond’ to work for 3 years as a Visiting Fellow at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD. In 1985, she was recruited to the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Diego as a junior faculty member of the Division of Gastroenterology by the late Kiertisin Dharmsathaphorn, at that time an up and coming researcher in the area of epithelial transport physiology. In 1988 she was appointed Assistant Professor of Medicine and rose through the ranks at UCSD to become a full Professor of Medicine in 1996 and Vice-chair of Research for the Department of Medicine in 1999, a position she held for 7 years. She is currently Dean of Graduate Studies at UCSD and was recently re-appointed for a second term.
Among her many research contributions, Dr. Barrett has pioneered the area of growth factor regulation of epithelial ion transport, immensely increasing understanding of the multiple roles of growth factors and mitogenic signaling pathways in the acute regulation of intestinal epithelial function. She has also generated key insights into bacterial manipulation of epithelial function, roles for commensal bacteria in intestinal homeostasis, and mechanisms of action of probiotics in regulating epithelial function in models of inflammation. She has over 100 original scientific publications, over 100 review articles and book chapters, and 225 invited speaking engagements to her credit.
In addition to shaping our thinking on physiological systems through her research and review articles, Kim has also had a profound influence on the teaching of physiology. This includes publishing articles on the teaching of physiology such as “New ways of thinking about (and teaching about) intestinal epithelial function” - (Advances in Physiological Education, 2008). She has also written several book chapters, including chapters in the Textbook of Gastroenterology, served as lead author and overall editor for the 23rd Edition of Ganong’s Review of Medical Physiology, in 2010, and wrote a textbook of her own entitled Gastrointestinal Physiology, published in 2006. This textbook has become a standard for medical schools around the world and emphasizes not only her academic and scientific standing, but also the influence she has and will continue to have on generations of physiologists, medical students and future physicians. She has also received a number of awards for teaching from UCSD including the Kaiser-Permanente Award for Excellence in Teaching at UCSD in 2000, as well as being the inaugural recipient of the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2002. Her holistic approach to understanding and teaching physiology has illuminated complex scientific and clinical phenomena for thousands of students throughout her career.
As a mentor, Kim has been an invaluable guide for the many postdoctoral scholars and students who have worked with her. Her support and mentoring of her trainees has paid great dividends as many of her mentees have gone on to establish their own independent research careers, generate their own independent funding and win national awards. These include Declan McCole, an Assistant Professor of Medicine at UCSD, and the 2011 New Investigator of the Year for the Gastrointestinal & Liver Section of the APS; Stephen Keely, Assistant Director of Molecular Medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and a past winner of the GIL New Investigator Award; and Fermín Sánchez de Medina López-Huertas, Professor of Pharmacology at the University of Granada, Spain.
Kim has been a selfless advocate for young researchers at both institutional level, as chair of the UCSD Biomedical Sciences PhD program and chair of the committee on research and faculty development at UCSD, and also at national level through her participation on many American Physiological Society and American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) committees including a task force on the status of PhDs in the AGA, and running academic skills workshops. She has also given her time and effort to conduct symposia and deliver seminars to thousands of trainees and junior faculty at national meetings on how to determine a career path and navigate the academic promotion system. This includes her integral role in UCSD’s own renowned mentoring program entitled NCLAM (National Center of Leadership in Academic Medicine) since the program’s inception in 1998. She has also been a powerful advocate for many associations and groups especially for women in science and women in physiology in particular, both through local groups in the Southern California area, at her institution as co-Chair of the Task Force on Gender Equity, and also at national level. This has led to recognition in various forms including a YWCA TWIN (Tribute to Women in Industry) Award, in 2009. She has worked tirelessly to promote scientific awareness, the need for enhanced NIH funding, and the importance of graduate education among members of the legislature both at the State level and in Washington, and to increase awareness in the media. Her outreach efforts have also encompassed an NSF-funded GK-12 program that places graduate students as partners with teachers in local high school classrooms.
Kim has won numerous honors recognizing her research accomplishments including the APS Henry Pickering Bowditch award, the APS Davenport Lecturer award, the AGA Young Investigator Award, an honorary Doctorate of Medical Science from Queen’s University, Belfast, and election as a Foreign Member of the Swedish Royal Society of Sciences. In 2008 she received one of the awards of which she is proudest when she was selected as one of the AGA Outstanding Women in Science. Her scientific accomplishments were also recognized by her colleagues at UCSD School of Medicine when she received the Faculty Distinguished Lecturer Award in 1999. She has also served as a reviewer on numerous NIH study sections and on NIH advisory panels.
Kim brings a great heart to all her endeavors through her passion for science, her dedication to the academic mission of her institution and the associations to which she has dedicated huge efforts, in particular the APS, and most notably to the countless individuals she has touched with her compassion and willingness to help, be they humble undergraduates or senior professors. Her generosity is well known and was notably recognized by the San Diego Chapter of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA), who presented her with their prestigious “Heroes with Hearts” award in 2007 to acknowledge her many, often unheralded, services to the CCFA at both local and national level.
In addition to being an incredible role model for women in science, Kim has been a wonderful servant to the American Physiological Society. She has served on committees for both the Gastrointestinal and Cell sections, and chaired a number of committees including the Women in Physiology Committee, and the Committee on Committees. She has also devoted a significant portion of her career to editorial duties on behalf of APS. She served as Editor-in-Chief for the American Journal of Physiology: Cell Physiology for six years (1996-2002), and chaired the APS Publications Committee (2005-2010). She is currently vice-chair of the Publications Committee with a special responsibility for ethical issues. In addition, she is currently Deputy Editor-in-Chief and Senior Editor of the Journal of Physiology and has served on the editorial boards of a number of other prominent journals. Indeed, her service to APS may increase further as she is one of the nominees to become APS President in 2013.