As one of the most respected leaders in the field of molecular cell biology, Dr. David Sabatini has spent his career delving deeply into the mechanisms that regulate cell growth. His seminal research has focused on the mTOR (mechanistic target of rapamycin) pathway, a critical regulator of cellular growth. His work includes the discovery of many of the protein components of the mTOR pathway, including mTOR, and ongoing investigation of their functions in diseases such as cancer and diabetes as well as in aging. Dr. Sabatini’s passion for the field is evident in his research, speeches, presentation, awards and dozens of scientific papers that have been published related to mTOR and the regulation of cellular growth.
Dr. Sabatini began his career as a 24-year-old student who joined The Johns Hopkins University lab of neuroscientist Solomon Snyder in the early 1990s. Given the opportunity to choose his research project, he chose the study of the rapamycin molecule. While still a student at Johns Hopkins, Dr. Sabatini discovered mTOR and the mode of action of rapamyacin in 1994. This was the first of his many contributions to the field as, according to Dr. Snyder, “more than 90 percent of the discoveries that have made mTOR one of the hottest proteins in the world have largely been attributed to his work.”
Dr. Sabatini’s subsequent research led him to uncover the two distinct pathways within mTOR: mTORC1 and mTORC2. Relevant to the activities of Navitor, Dr. Sabatini’s work on the mTORC1 pathway has elucidated its role in nutrient signaling that is central to cellular function, and revealed how nutrients and metabolism play a key role in many diseases. Ultimately, his discovery of the mTOR pathway and its mechanisms for switching cell growth on and off opens promising opportunities to develop new treatments for many common and debilitating diseases such as cancers, diabetes and muscular skeletal disorders.
Dr. Sabatini is a member of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, senior associate member at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, and member of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT, as well as associate professor of biology at MIT. He is also an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
Dr. Sabatini received his BS from Brown University magna cum laude and his MD/PhD from The Johns Hopkins University in 1997. He has received a number of distinctions, including being named a W. M. Keck Foundation Distinguished Young Scholar, a Pew Scholar, a recipient of the 2009 Paul Marks Prize for Cancer Research, a recipient of the 2012 ASBMB 2012 Earl and Theresa Stadtman Scholar Award, a 2014 recipient of the National Academy of Sciences Award in molecular biology and, most recently in 2016, was elected as a member of the National Academy of Sciences.
David Sabatini Milestones and Key Contributions to mTOR Research
Discovered mTOR and mode of action of rapamycin in the lab of Dr. Solomon Snyder
Discovered the components of the mTOR complexes, mTORC1 and mTORC2
Identified the components of the mTORC1 signaling pathway involved in nutrient sensing
Discovered key negative regulators of the mTORC1 pathway that are lost in cancer
Received the National Academy of Sciences Award in molecular biology for his discovery of components and regulators of the mTOR kinase pathway and his elucidation of the important roles of this signaling pathway in nutrient sensing, cell physiology, and cancer
Identified the molecular sensors responsible for the activation of mTORC1 by the amino acids Leucine and Arginine
Elected to the National Academy of Sciences in recognition of distinguished and continuing achievements in original research directed at discerning the individual roles mTOR’s protein components play in diseases such as cancer and diabetes as well as in the aging process.