NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

NIA’s Kohanski Retires

Dr. Ronald Kohanski, headshot
Dr. Ronald Kohanski

Dr. Ronald Kohanski, director of the National Institute on Aging’s Division of Aging Biology (DAB), has retired after 18 years of service at the institute. Kohanski joined NIA as a DAB program officer in 2005. He became DAB deputy director in 2007 and served as acting director before moving into his latest role in March 2021. 

“Ron’s intellect, commitment to science and constructive impatience will leave a valuable legacy to the research field, and for me personally, lasting appreciation and gratitude,” said NIA Director Dr. Richard Hodes.  

Throughout his career, Kohanski gained recognition for his ability to connect scientists from around the world from multiple disciplines via NIA’s diverse scientific portfolios. 

“Ron’s creativity both professionally and personally is an inspiration and is a testament to his open-mindedness and thoughtful approach to leading and managing a division that has doubled in size and has become increasingly diverse during his tenure,” said Dr. Stacy Carrington-Lawrence, DAB deputy. “I am honored to have worked so closely with Ron over the past couple of years and had the pleasure to know him as not only my supervisor, but more importantly as an unwavering humanitarian.”

Several colleagues acknowledged his lasting contributions as a leader, scientist and collaborator. 

“Ron is a rare find in our line of work,” said Dr. Max Guo, chief of DAB’s Cell Biology Branch. “His bold ideas have never been murky. Ron often argues with people on science passionately and fiercely, but always with a smile and a sense of humor.” Dr. John Williams, a DAB program officer, added, “Ron is one of the best-read scientists I have met and he has a keen understanding of the highly integrative nature of the science.”  

Kohanski’s research is on enzymology and developmental biology of the insulin receptor. He earned his doctorate in biochemistry from the University of Chicago in 1981. After a postdoctoral fellowship at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) School of Medicine, he worked as a faculty member at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and then in the same capacity back at JHU. 

He has authored or co-authored 64 peer-reviewed scientific articles, contributed to six books or book chapters and has written published reviews of literature in his field. Kohanski received numerous NIH merit awards over his career for outstanding contributions that have advanced the NIA and broader NIH missions. 

Post-retirement plans include more time to design and build furniture and play with his grandchildren.

“It has been a privilege to work with the biology of aging research community and my colleagues at NIH, seeking a better understanding of aging and to promote geroscience,” Kohanski concluded. 

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