David M. Sabatini, MD, PhD
The Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH) has selected David M. Sabatini, MD, PhD, to receive its 5th annual Lurie Prize in Biomedical Sciences for discovery of the mTOR (mechanistic target of rapamycin) cellular pathway as a key regulator of growth and metabolism in response to nutrients. The Lurie Prize in Biomedical Sciences recognizes outstanding achievement by a promising scientist aged 52 or younger. Dr. Sabatini was selected by a jury of six distinguished biomedical researchers.
Dr. Sabatini is a pioneer in the study of nutrient sensing and the impact of caloric restriction on health and lifespan. The Lurie Prize in Biomedical Sciences will be presented to Dr. Sabatini at the FNIH Award Ceremony hosted by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on May 17 in Washington, DC.
Dr. Sabatini is a member of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Professor of Biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. His research identified the specific protein components of the mTOR pathway, including mTOR and two large complexes that contain it called mTOR complex 1 and complex 2, and documented how mTOR regulation and dysregulation affect normal and diseased physiology. As caloric restriction is associated with the slowing of cellular aging, Dr. Sabatini’s research suggests that one day, the mTOR pathway could be manipulated to trick the body into mimicking a fasting state, even under nutrient-replete conditions, and thereby protect against age-related diseases, such as cancer and diabetes.
“We are delighted to honor Dr. Sabatini with the 2017 Lurie Prize in Biomedical Sciences for discoveries related to the mTOR nutrient sensing pathway,” said Maria C. Freire, PhD, President and Executive Director of the FNIH. “Dr. Sabatini’s research is seminal, innovative, and impactful—attributes that are the hallmark of all Lurie Prize awardees.”
The prize includes a $100,000 honorarium, donated by philanthropist and FNIH Board Member Ann Lurie. Ms. Lurie is President of the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Foundation, which she founded with her late husband, Robert, and the President of Lurie Holdings, Inc.
“I am truly honored to receive the 2017 Lurie Prize in Biomedical Sciences and to be recognized for our discovery of mTOR and its roles in growth control and nutrient sensing. Inhibitors of mTOR are already used in the clinic for various reasons, including to treat cancer and block organ rejection, and my hope is that our work will lead to new generations of drugs with wider impacts, such as in treating age-related diseases,” said Dr. Sabatini. “I am very grateful to all my lab members whose dedication, creativity, and perseverance have led to our discoveries, and this award is a recognition of our accomplishments.” ■