Whitehead Member David Sabatini receives Paul Marks Prize

September 29, 2009

Tags: Sabatini LabAwards + Announcements

CAMBRIDGE, Mass – Whitehead Institute Member David Sabatini has been awarded the Paul Marks Prize for Cancer Research in recognition of his discovery of a key pathway regulating cell growth and survival.

“I am very honored to receive the prize,” says Sabatini.  “It represents the increasing recognition by the community of the importance of deregulated growth and metabolism in the pathogenesis of cancer.”

The pathway Sabatini discovered, known as mTOR, comprises proteins that respond to nutrient cues within cells. Sabatini’s lab investigates the role nutrients and their metabolism play in several diseases, including cancer. Most recently, the lab identified a protein capable of suppressing part of the TOR pathway in multiple myeloma, allowing cancerous cells to enhance their own survival, noting that when this protein’s expression is blocked in multiple myeloma cells, the cancer cells die within seven days.

Sabatini is one of three recipients of the Paul Marks Prize, which has been awarded biennially since 2001 by Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center to young scientists (those under age 46) whose work is significantly advancing cancer research. Arul Chinnaiyan of the University of Michigan and Matthew Meyerson of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute also received the prize.

Winners were selected by a committee of prominent members of the cancer research community and chaired by Titia de Lange, a professor at The Rockefeller University and a former Marks Prize winner. "Although all three winners are focused primarily on working in the laboratory, the translational aspect of their discoveries has already begun to influence the treatments that cancer patients receive," Dr. de Lange said.

The prize is named for Paul A. Marks, President Emeritus of Memorial Sloan-Kettering, who led the Center from 1980 to 1999. This year's winners will each receive an award of $50,000 and will speak about their work at a public symposium held at Memorial Sloan-Kettering this coming December.

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David Sabatini’s primary affiliation is with Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, where his laboratory is located and all his research is conducted. He is also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and a professor of biology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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