In recent decades there have been remarkable reductions in death from cardiovascular diseases, largely due to a decreased prevalence of smoking and modern science that has led to effective therapies for hypertension and high cholesterol. Even so, cardiovascular diseases (CVD) remains the number one cause of death worldwide.1
Meet Some of Pfizer's Metabolic Disease & Cardiovascular Risk Researchers
Morris J. Birnbaum, MD, PhD
Senior Vice President, Chief Scientific Officer of Internal Medicine
Morris Birnbaum, MD, PhD, is Senior Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer for the Internal Medicine Research Unit, comprising Cardiovascular and Metabolic Disease as well as Neuroscience research. Specifically in Cardiovascular and Metabolic Disease, Dr. Birnbaum guides the discovery of novel transformative therapies to reduce the prevalence of cardiometabolic dysfunction, thereby eliminating or diminishing the impact of heart diseases on life expectancy and quality. He is responsible for setting the portfolio and technology strategies to bring programs from initial discovery through to proof of concept in the clinic.
Dr. Birnbaum completed his undergraduate, graduate, and medical training at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island before moving to St. Louis to carry out clinical training in Internal Medicine at Barnes Hospital of Washington University School of Medicine. He then performed postdoctoral studies at the University of California, San Francisco and Sloan-Kettering Cancer Institute. Following an associate professorship in the Department of Cell Biology at Harvard Medical School, he moved to the University of Pennsylvania as Professor of Medicine and Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, where he later became Associate Dean for Biomedical Cores and Associate Director of the Institute for Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism. Dr. Birnbaum was elected to membership in the American Society for Clinical Investigation and Association of American Physicians, and is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has served as Deputy Editor for the Journal of Clinical Investigation and is currently on the Editorial board of Cell Metabolism. His research involves the study of insulin action, metabolism and how organisms respond to both a deficit and a surfeit of food.
Albert Kim, MD, PhD
Vice President, Clinical Research Head
Albert Kim, MD, PhD, is Vice President and Clinical Research Head for the Cardiovascular and Metabolic Disease Research Unit, he is an accomplished physician-scientist with broad expertise in cardiovascular disease, translational medicine, and drug development. Dr. Kim joined the Pfizer Cardiovasular and Metabolic Diseases Research Unit in 2013 and has served in multiple roles over the past three years leading early asset teams and contributing as a core member of the cardiovascular therapeutic area strategy team. Most recently, he was a co-Global Clinical Lead for the bococizumab Phase III program. In addition to project leadership experience, he has served in advisory and supervisory roles for cardiovascular safety and pharmacovigilance activities, and worked at the US Food and Drug Administration in the Division of Cardiac Devices as a medical reviewer and project lead for the industry guidance document on catheter ablation for atrial fibrillation.
Dr. Kim earned his undergraduate degree in biomedical engineering from Harvard and MD and PhD degrees from University of California Los Angeles. He completed internal medicine residency at Brigham and Women's Hospital, cardiology fellowship training at Massachusetts General Hospital, and clinical electrophysiology training at University of California San Francisco. Prior to joining Pfizer, Dr. Kim joined the University of California San Francisco faculty and subsequently transitioned to the pharmaceutical industry as a Senior Translational Medicine Expert at Novartis, where he led small molecule and biologic asset programs for hyperlipidemia, inflammation, atherosclerosis, and arrhythmia indications. He holds academic appointments in the VA Boston Cardiac Electrophysiology Section, at Boston University, and at Harvard Medical School.
Kendra K. Bence, PhD
Senior Director, Metabolism
Kendra Bence, PhD, is Senior Director of Metabolism, heading up research and discovery efforts in the type II diabetes and Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease/Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis therapeutic areas for the Pfizer Cardiovascular and Metabolic Research Unit. Dr. Bence leads a talented team of scientists focused on developing a deep understanding of the intricate biological mechanisms underlying type II diabetes and fatty liver disease, with the goal of identifying novel ways to treat and eventually prevent these metabolic diseases. She is also the Cardiovascular and Metabolic representative to the Pfizer WRD Post-Doctoral Program and has a strong commitment to training and mentoring the next generation of scientists.
Dr. Bence has a long-standing interest in the pathogenesis of metabolic disease. She received her BA in Biology from Colgate University in 1993, and her PhD in Physiology and Biophysics from the Weill Cornell Medical College of Cornell University in 2000. Dr. Bence conducted her post-doctoral work at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center/Harvard Medical School in Boston, where she became interested in the role of cellular signaling in the regulation of metabolism. In 2006, Dr. Bence joined the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania as an Assistant Professor of Neuroscience and was subsequently promoted to Associate Professor with tenure. While at Penn, she served as the Director of Academic Enrichment for the Institute for Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism, and served on the American Diabetes Association grant review panel as well as on various National Institutes of Health study sections.
Dr. Bence is most well-known for her work on the role of protein tyrosine phosphatases in metabolism, and has co-authored over 45 original research articles, book chapters and reviews to date. Her work has been supported by the National Institutes of Health.
Leonard Buckbinder, PhD
Senior Director Cardiovascular Biology
Acting Head of Cardiovascular Biology
Leonard Buckbinder, PhD, is Senior Director Cardiovascular Biology and Acting Head of Cardiovascular Biology. He joined Pfizer in Groton, CT in 1997 and contributed to efforts in cancer, inflammation, osteoporosis and cardiovascular diseases. In inflammation, Dr. Buckbinder conceived and led the identification of dissociated glucocorticoid receptor agonists. Based in Cambridge, MA, he is the research program leader for the myeloperoxidase inhibitor program. Dr. Buckbinder is currently interim leader for Cardiovascular Research, and organized the group into focus areas of vascular inflammation, cardiomyocyte metabolism and function, and the cardiorenal axis. He is also actively involved in working with the External Research and Development Innovation on external research opportunities.
Dr. Buckbinder did his graduate work in biochemistry and molecular biology at University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and Stony Brook University with Dr. Danny Reinberg. He studied RNA polymerase II transcription and how phosphorylation regulates AP1 transcription factors. His postdoctoral work at the Carnegie Institute focused on identification of transcriptional pathways regulated by the thyroid hormone receptor during amphibian metamorphosis. He joined Bristol-Myers Squibb in 1992 and advanced the identification of targets of the p53 tumor suppressor, and first connected oncogenic IGF-1 signaling to p53. This work led to anti-IGF1 programs at Bristol Myers Squibb which were advanced to Ph2.