Alumni News and Features

Dr. Robert V. Farese, Jr. and Dr. Tobias C. Walther appointed Professors of Genetics and Complex Diseases at HSPH

Monday, July 7, 2014 
From Dean Frenk to the HSPH Community : 


Please join me in extending a warm welcome to Dr. Robert V. Farese, Jr, who has been appointed Professor of Genetics and Complex Diseases at HSPH. Dr. Farese comes to Harvard from the Gladstone Institutes at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), where he was a Professor of Medicine, and Biochemistry & Biophysics. 

Dr. Farese’s research focuses on the complex process by which fat molecules are synthesized and stored in cells; investigations that can lead to solutions for obesity and its related conditions, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. At HSPH, Dr. Farese’s primary responsibility will be to provide leadership in research and teaching in cellular lipid synthesis and storage, and how these processes are coordinated with the cell biology and physiology of energy metabolism. His discoveries, independently and in recent years with his research partner, Dr. Tobias C. Walther, have directly affected the understanding of the mechanisms that produce and maintain hepatic steatosis, a forerunner of steatohepatitis and cirrhosis, and a cause of dyslipidemia and insulin resistance underlying type-2 diabetes. His work has enormous implications for the understanding of normal physiology and the pathobiology of diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and dyslipidemias, and has already yielded new therapeutic targets to which treatments are being studied in humans.

Dr. Farese also works on the basic cellular processes underlying neurodegeneration in frontotemporal dementia (FTD), and is a director of the Consortium for FTD Research and the Bluefield Project to Cure FTD.

Dr. Farese received his medical degree from Vanderbilt Medical School in 1985 and then completed his internship and residency in Medicine at the University of Colorado. In 1989, Dr. Farese started a postdoctoral fellowship at UCSF in Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism, and at the Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease (GICD). In 1994, he was promoted to an Investigator at the GICD and an Assistant Professor of Medicine in Residence at UCSF. Dr. Farese was promoted to Associate Professor of Medicine at UCSF in 1998, Professor of Medicine at UCSF in 2001, and Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics in 2006.

Dr. Farese’s experience is certain to strengthen both research and training within the Department of Genetics and Complex Diseases and our Harvard community. On behalf of the school and the faculty, I whole-heartedly welcome Dr. Farese to HSPH.




Please join me in extending a warm welcome to Dr. Tobias C. Walther, who has been appointed Professor of Genetics and Complex Diseases at HSPH. Dr. Walther comes to Harvard from the Yale School of Medicine, where he was an Associate Professor of Cell Biology.

The aim of Dr. Walther’s research is to understand the mechanisms that regulate lipid metabolism, storage and lipid function in membranes or as signaling molecules. At HSPH, Dr. Walther’s primary responsibility will be to provide leadership in research and teaching in his area of expertise. Dr. Walther’s research is focused on the mechanisms by which cells regulate their lipid content and the impact of intracellular lipids on cellular functioning. Dr. Walther has also positioned his laboratory at the forefront of the rapidly growing field of lipid droplet biology. His group studies proteins required to adjust lipid droplet size and composition according to the cellular state. Additionally, his research has been directed on organelle biogenesis and membrane biology. Dr. Walther will be working as a team with Dr. Robert V. Farese, Jr., and provides complementary experience and knowledge in biochemistry, cell biology, and genetics. 

Dr. Walther received his PhD in biology from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory and Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich in 2002. Dr. Walther then joined the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco to complete his post-doctoral studies. After completion of his postdoctoral training Dr. Walther went on to become a Group Leader at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried, Germany. In 2010, Dr. Walther relocated his lab to the U.S. and was appointed as an Associate Professor of Cell Biology at the Yale School of Medicine.

Dr. Walther’s comprehensive knowledge is certain to strengthen both research and training within the Department of Genetics and Complex Diseases and our Harvard community. On behalf of the school and the faculty, I whole-heartedly welcome Dr. Walther to HSPH.