Peter J. Tontonoz, MD., PhD.

Professor at University of California, Los Angeles Ronald Reagan's School of Medicine, est. 1999
Principal Investigator at Howard Hughes Medical Institute, est. 2000

Graduate Training at Harvard Medical School 
Postdoctoral Training at University of California, San Diego, Salk Biological Institute. 

Peter's team focuses on: 

Lipid Signaling Pathways in Physiology and Disease.

Obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease are the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in industrialized societies. The common thread that links these disorders is dysregulation of lipid metabolism. Our long-term goal is to understand the mechanisms whereby lipids control gene expression and impact the development of metabolic disease. The discovery of nuclear receptors that are activated by lipids defined a new paradigm for the transcriptional regulation of metabolic pathways. Dissection of these pathways is advancing our understanding of basic mechanisms that control metabolism and highlighting new opportunities for therapeutic intervention in disease.

Link to current publications: PUBMED

Thanks to Dr. Peter Tontonoz for joining us today to talk about his journey to lead a team of dedicated scientists to unraveling the mysteries behind metabolic related diseases. 

Today's show we ask Peter some of the following questions that has helped him to lead such an amazingly successful research lab: 

  • What did you wish that you knew before starting your lab?
  • Who were your inspirational leaders in science?
  • What strategy do you use to manage your team?
  • How do you put together the best team?
  • What is a critical skill(s) that has helped you?

some of what we learn in this episode:

  • The dirty secret of graduate and postdoc training is that little is taught about management.
  • No matter how good you are technically, if you can't explain why your work is interesting, nobody's going to give you money. 
  • Leading by example is the most powerful motivator.
  • The key to managing a great team is in selecting great candidates through your network and by speaking. 
  • You can't force someone to be a scientist. Look for a specific phenotype. They love it and can't consider doing anything else.
  • You have to spend money to make money. Don't be too conservative with your start up funding. Generate data. More is better.

Plan to succeed
— Peter Tontonoz - HHMI Principal Investigator

Thank you for checking out The Leading Life Science Radio Podcast. We’d love to hear from you. So, please leave a comment or suggestions about questions you’d like to hear from our guests, that could help you on your scientific journey.

Also, please let us know what leaders in science inspire you to pursue a career in the life sciences.  We'd love to bring them on the show, to share their experiences and to share their tips and strategies that has helped them to lead a successful life science venture. 

Till the next time, happy sciencing.

- Damien Wilpitz