Life's Throttle: The PI3K-PTEN-Akt-TOR Pathway in Cell Growth and Survival
Posted September 28, 2007
We are accustomed to thinking of medical conditions as having different causes. Physicians specialize in areas such as cancer, diabetes, and diseases of aging. However, new research reveals that these seemingly disparate conditions have much in common at the biochemical level.
Cancer, diabetes, and aging are related by their use of the PI3K-PTEN-Akt-TOR signaling pathway. This pathway controls how cells grow when nutrients are available and plays a role in how caloric restriction is able to extend lifespan. If parts of the pathway malfunction due to somatic or genetic mutations, cancer or diabetes can result. Thus, the pathway presents an exciting new frontier in medicine as researchers discover how to treat diseases by stopping the propagation of harmful signals and promoting the transmission of beneficial ones.
A meeting at the Academy held on May 11, 2007, featured scientists at the forefront of the investigation into this pathway.
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Pier Paolo Pandolfi
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Lewis C. Cantley, PhD
Lewis C. Cantley joined the faculty of Harvard Medical School in 1992, when he was also appointed chief of the Division of Signal Transduction in the Department of Medicine at Beth Israel Hospital. He earned his PhD from Cornell University in 1975. His postdoctoral research and first faculty appointment were in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Harvard University. Prior to joining Harvard Medical School, Cantley was professor of physiology at Tufts University School of Medicine.
Ramon Parsons, MD, PhD
Ramon Parsons is the Avon Foundation Associate Professor of Breast Cancer Research in the Institute for Cancer Genetics and in the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at Columbia University.
Pier Paolo Pandolfi, MD, PhD
Pier Paolo Pandolfi recently joined the faculty of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) where he holds joint appointments in the Department of Pathology and the Department of Medicine. He is also the director of the new Cancer Genetics Center at BIDMC as well as a professor of medicine and pathology at Harvard Medical School.
Pandolfi moved to BIDMC from New York's Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, where he held the Albert C. Foster Chair in Cancer Biology and Genetics and was professor of molecular biology and genetics at Weill Graduate School of Medical Sciences as well as professor of pathology at Weill Medical College of Cornell University. Pandolfi received his MD in 1989 and his PhD in 1995 from the University of Perugia, Italy.
Anne Brunet, PhD
Anne Brunet is an assistant professor in the Department of Genetics at Stanford University School of Medicine. Brunet received her PhD in biology in 1997 from Université de Nice, France and completed postdoctoral training in Michael E. Greenberg's lab at Harvard Medical School. Her honors include an award from the Human Frontier Science Program and the Goldenson-Berenberg Fellowship for postdoctoral training. In 2003, she received the Prix L. LaCaze et A. Policart-Lacassagne for junior scientists from the French National Academy of Sciences.
David A. Sinclair, PhD
David Sinclair is an associate professor of pathology and director of the Paul F. Glenn Laboratories for the Biological Mechanisms of Aging at Harvard Medical School. Sinclair holds a PhD in biochemistry and molecular genetics from the University of New South Wales, Australia. He worked as a postdoctoral researcher at M.I.T. with Leonard Guarente before being recruited in 1999 to Harvard Medical School.
Domenico Accili, MD
Domenico Accili is professor of medicine at Columbia University, attending physician at Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital, and director of the Columbia University Diabetes and Endocrinology Research Center in New York, NY. A graduate of the University of Rome School of Medicine in Italy, he trained in medicine at the University Hospital, Agostino Gemelli, also in Rome. Following a Fogarty Fellowship in the Diabetes Branch of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney diseases, he became chief of the Section on Genetics and Hormone action of the National Institute of Child Health at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. Since 1999, he has served on the faculty at Columbia University.
George Thomas, PhD
George Thomas is interim chairman of the department of genome science and interim director of the Genome Research Institute at the University of Cincinnati. He received his PhD from UC Santa Cruz in 1975. He then moved to the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research (FMI) in Basel, Switzerland in 1975 as a fellow of the European Molecular Biology Organization. In 1979 he became a junior group leader at the FMI and in 1983 he was promoted to senior group leader. In 1991 he became a member of EMBO and in 1995 was awarded the Max Cloëtta Prize for Medical Research.
Barbara B. Kahn, MD
Barbara Kahn is professor of medicine, chief of the Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism Division at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, chief of the joint Endocrinology Program, and associate director of the NIH-funded Boston Obesity Nutrition Research Center. Kahn has an MS from the University of California Berkeley, Health and Medical Sciences and an MD from Stanford University Medical School.
Peter Finan, PhD
Peter Finan is the phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3-kinase) project team head in Respiratory Diseases based at Novartis Horsham Research Centre, Uk.
David Sabatini, MD, PhD
David Sabatini is a member of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, an associate member of the Broad Institute and the MIT Center for Cancer Research, and an associate professor in the Department of Biology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Sabatini holds an MD and PhD from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
Charles L. Sawyers, MD
Charles Sawyers is chairman of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center's Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program (HOPP) and the first incumbent of the Marie José and Henry R. Kravis Chair. He received his medical degree from The Johns Hopkins University. He completed a residency in internal medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, Medical Center and a clinical fellowship in hematology/oncology at the UCLA School of Medicine. He is also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator.
Catherine Zandonella is a science writer based in New York City, covering such topics as environmental science, public health, and applied technology. She has a master's degree in public health from the University of California, Berkeley. Zandonella has written for a number of publications, including New Scientist, The Scientist, and Nature.