MANHASSET, NY – The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research today announced that Lewis C. Cantley, PhD, the Meyer Director of the Sandra and Edward Meyer Cancer Center at Weill Cornell Medical College and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, will be the recipient of the third annual Ross Prize in Molecular Medicine. The Ross Prize is issued via the Feinstein Institute’s peer-reviewed, open-access journal, Molecular Medicine. The Prize, which includes a $50,000 gift, will be formally presented to Dr. Cantley on June 8 at the New York Academy of Sciences in Manhattan, followed by an academic lecture by Dr. Cantley and other preeminent researchers.
The Ross Prize is made possible by the generosity of Feinstein Institute board members Robin and Jack Ross of Upper Brookville, NY. It is awarded annually by Molecular Medicine to scientists who have made a demonstrable impact in the understanding of human diseases pathogenesis and/or treatment, and who hold significant promise for making even greater contributions to the general field of molecular medicine.
“Lewis Cantley’s pursuit of science led to his discovery of the enzyme PI 3-kinase,” said Feinstein Institute President, Kevin J. Tracey, MD, who also serves as editor emeritus of Molecular Medicine. “He pursued this discovery to further elucidate the functionality of PI 3-kinase, leading to therapeutic applications.”
“It is a tremendous honor to receive this award,” said Dr. Cantley. “My laboratory discovered PI 3-kinase more than 25 years ago because of its co-purification with a variety of oncoproteins that caused cancers in mice and chickens. It was an unexpected discovery and it took us many years to understand why this enzyme, which produces a low abundant but powerful lipid, caused cancer. We now know that the lipid produced by PI 3-kinase is driving the growth of most human cancers. Many PI 3-kinase inhibitors are now in clinical trials and last summer the first PI 3-kinase inhibitor was approved for treating chronic lymphocytic leukemia based on clinical trials conducted at the Meyer Cancer Center at Weill Cornell Medical College and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. It is likely that PI 3-kinase inhibitors will be useful in treating a wide variety of cancers as we learn how to best use these drugs in treating solid tumors. In accepting this award, I want to acknowledge an incredible group of brilliant students and postdoctoral fellows and collaborators who conducted the research that elucidated the PI 3-kinase pathway and its role in cancer."
On June 8, at a ceremony to be held at the New York Academy of Sciences in Manhattan, Dr. Cantley will be presented the Ross Prize. After the award presentation, Dr. Cantley; José Baselga, MD, PhD, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center; and Harold Varmus, MD, Weill Cornell Medical College will each present scientific lectures. These preeminent researchers will discuss how to harness cell signaling pathways to treat cancer. To learn more about and register for the Ross Prize celebration and symposium, visit www.nyas.org/RossPrize2015. Registration is free.
The research of Dr. Cantley is focused on understanding the biochemical pathways that regulate normal mammalian cell growth and the defects that cause cell transformation. Dr. Cantley, whose early work was on the structure and mechanism of enzymes that transport small molecules across cell membranes, pioneered the application of fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) for studying such processes. In the mid 1980s, Dr. Cantley conducted research on biochemical mechanisms of cellular responses to hormones and growth factors that led to the discovery of the PI 3-kinase signaling pathway. Dr. Cantley and his colleagues at Tufts University School of Medicine identified PI 3-kinase as an enzyme that co-purified with a variety of oncoproteins. Subsequent research showed that PI 3-kinase activation is critical for oncogene-mediated cell transformation, as well as for insulin-dependent stimulation of glucose uptake and metabolism, with the subsequent revelation that lipid products of PI 3-kinase directly activate the AKT/PKB protein kinase to provide a cell survival signal. This discovery, as well as subsequent discoveries from other laboratories that human cancers frequently have activating mutations in PI 3-kinase genes and/or inactivating mutations in the PTEN gene (encoding a phosphatase that degrades PI 3-kinase lipid products), stimulated pharmaceutical companies to develop PI 3-kinase pathway inhibitors for cancer therapy.
For the Ross Prize, Dr. Cantley was selected by an awards committee comprised of Dr. Tracey and the following individuals:
- Christopher J. Czura, PhD, vice president, scientific affairs, Feinstein Institute, and executive publisher, Molecular Medicine;
- Betty Diamond, MD, head, Center for Autoimmune Diseases and Musculoskeletal Disorders, Feinstein Institute, and editor, Molecular Medicine;
- Peter K. Gregersen, MD, head, Laboratory of Genomics and Human Genetics, Feinstein Institute;
- Klas Kärre, MD, PhD, professor of molecular immunology, Karolinska Institute; and
- Lars Klareskog, MD, PhD, senior professor in the Department of Medicine, Karolinska Institutet
About Molecular Medicine
Molecular Medicine is an open access, international, peer-reviewed biomedical journal published by The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research. Molecular Medicine strives to understand normal body functioning and disease pathogenesis at the molecular level, which may allow researchers and physician-scientists to use that knowledge in the design of specific molecular tools for disease diagnosis, treatment, prognosis, and prevention. To learn more, go to www.molmed.org.
About The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research
Headquartered in Manhasset, NY, The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research is home to international scientific leaders in many areas including Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer’s disease, psychiatric disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, sepsis, human genetics, pulmonary hypertension, leukemia, neuroimmunology, medicinal chemistry, and bioelectronic medicine. The Feinstein Institute, part of the North Shore-LIJ Health System, ranks in the top 6th percentile of all National Institutes of Health grants awarded to research centers. For more information, visit www.FeinsteinInstitute.org.
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