Oral Histories from the Archives: Priya Kishnani

Oral history interviews are some of our favorite items to share from the Medical Center Archives’ collections. This month we are featuring an interview with Dr. Priya Kishnani. Jessica Roseberry interviewed her on December 29, 2010 as part of the Women in Duke Medicine Oral History Exhibit.  Dr. Priya Kishnani

Dr. Kishnani is the Chen Family Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics at the Duke University School of Medicine. She is also Chief of the Division of Medical Genetics. She was born in Bombay, India. She received her MD in Bombay in 1990. She moved to the United States in 1991 after completing a Pediatric Residency in Mumbai, India. She went on to do a second Pediatric Residency at Duke University Medical Center, and in 1995, she completed a Fellowship in Clinical and Biochemical Genetics at Duke. Shortly thereafter, she joined the faculty at Duke.

Dr. Priya Kishnani was involved in designing the first clinical trials for a new treatment of Glycogen Storage Disease Type II, also known as Pompe disease, at Duke. She has become an expert in designing clinical trials for treatments of rare diseases, and has dedicated her career to advancing the treatment of Pompe disease globally. She has become an expert in designing clinical trials for treatments of rare diseases, and she is often sought as a consultant for this expertise and is also published widely. 

During the interview, Dr. Kishnani discusses her research with Pompe Disease patients and the experience of being a female in science and the medical field. She also shares an insightful reflection on translational medicine: 

“The term translational medicine if often used, and when someone called me a translational researcher for the first time, I didn’t quite understand.  But, as I see it now, I think this translational medicine is learning from the bench and taking it to the bedside; I always have this concept that you may learn from the bench and take it to the bedside, but without the bedside the bench, the laboratory experiments make no sense.  The bench is the lab experiments.  I still believe that the patients teach me the most, and even after the development of this therapy if we hadn’t looked at the patients carefully or learned carefully from them, then the next wave of advances would never be possible.  For instance, we would not have been able to develop the immune responses trying to develop a second generation of enzymes so that it can better target the muscle without having taken our first step so carefully.  To me, translational medicine is the ability of the physician to take lessons from the patient, take it back to the lab, learn from the lab, and bring it back to the patient.”

Dr. Kishnani with child


To read the full interview transcript, visit MedSpace. You can also find Dr. Kishnani’s profile on the Women in Duke Health digital exhibit. To learn more about other oral histories, please contact the Archives