About Us
Scientific Advisory Board




David 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 and his laboratory at the Whitehead Institute study the basic mechanisms in pathways that regulate cell growth, the process whereby cells and organisms accumulate mass and increase in size. These pathways are often deranged in human diseases, such as diabetes and cancer. A major focus of the laboratory is on a cellular system called the Target of Rapamycin (TOR) pathway, a major regulator of growth in many eukaryotic species. Work in Dr. Sabatini’s lab has led to the identification of many components of the pathway and to an understanding of their cellular and organismal functions. Dr. Sabatini is also interested in the role of metabolism in cancer and in the mechanisms that control the effects of dietary restriction on tumorigenesis. In addition to the work on growth control and cancer, his lab has developed and is using new technologies that facilitate the analysis of gene function in mammalian cells. The lab developed “cell-based microarrays” that allow one to examine the cellular effects of perturbing the activity of thousands of genes in parallel. Dr. Sabatini also is a founding member of The RNAi Consortium (TRC) of labs in the Boston area that is developing and using genome-scale RNA interference (RNAi) libraries to target human and mouse genes.

Dr. Sabatini received his BS from Brown University magna cum laude and his MD/PhD from Johns Hopkins University in 1997. He completed his thesis work in the lab of Dr. Solomon H. Snyder in the Department of Neuroscience. Later in the same year, Dr. Sabatini was appointed a Whitehead Fellow at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. This was followed, in 2002, by a dual appointment as a member at the Whitehead Institute and assistant professor of biology at MIT. Dr. Sabatini has received a number of distinctions, including being named a W. M. Keck Foundation Distinguished Young Scholar, a Pew Scholar and a TR100 Innovator; a recipient of the Paul Marks Prize for Cancer Research; and, most recently, a recipient of the 2012 ASBMB 2012 Earl and Thressa Stadtman Scholar Award.
Michael Hall joined the Biozentrum of the University of Basel (Switzerland) in 1987 where he is currently Professor and former Chair of Biochemistry. Dr. Hall is a pioneer in the fields of TOR signaling and cell growth. He discovered the highly conserved, nutrient-activated protein kinase TOR (Target of Rapamycin) in the early 1990's, and subsequently elucidated its role as a central controller of cell growth.

His subsequent studies include the discovery of the two structurally and functionally distinct TOR complexes (TORC1 and TORC2) and the description of the two signaling branches mediated by these two complexes. More recently, he demonstrated that mammalian TOR (mTOR) signaling in metabolic organs controls whole body growth and metabolism. As a central controller of growth and metabolism, TOR plays a key role in development and aging, and is implicated in disorders such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity.

Dr. Hall is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences, has received numerous awards, including the Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine (2009), the Marcel Benoist Prize for Sciences or Humanities (2012), the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences (2014), and the Canada Gairdner International Award (2015), and has served on several editorial and scientific advisory boards. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University and was a postdoctoral fellow at the Pasteur Institute (Paris, France) and the University of California, San Francisco.
Brian Hubbard is director of the Therapeutics Projects Group (TPG) at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. Under his leadership, and drawing on the Broad’s multiple programs and platforms, his group aspires to transform the process of drug discovery and the treatment of human disease by developing and applying novel drug discovery technologies; targeting novel classes of protein targets, generally viewed as “undruggable;” targeting novel mechanisms emerging from studies of human biology; and working in an open, collaborative environment to establish proofs of concept.

Dr. Hubbard brings extensive knowledge of drug discovery and development. Before coming to the Broad, he was Senior Director of Cardiovascular Diseases at Merck, where he was responsible for strategy and execution of research. His focus was primarily atherosclerosis research. While at Merck, Dr. Hubbard was also part of a core team that developed a strategic plan for restructuring basic research in the pharmaceutical industry.

Prior to his work at Merck, Dr. Hubbard was Director of Cardiovascular and Metabolism Research at Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research and did research into metabolic diseases and obesity at Millennium Pharmaceuticals.

Dr. Hubbard received his BS in chemistry from The College of William and Mary and a PhD in chemistry from the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana. He did postdoctoral research in biochemistry and antibiotics at Harvard Medical School.
Thomas Hughes has more than 25 years of experience in pharmaceutical research and development. Dr. Hughes joined Zafgen in 2008, as President, Chief Executive Officer and a member of the company’s board of directors. From 1987 to 2008, Dr. Hughes held several positions at Novartis AG (and formerly Sandoz Pharmaceuticals), including Vice President and global head of the cardiovascular and metabolic diseases therapeutic area at the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research in Cambridge, Mass. In these roles, he oversaw many drug discovery and development projects that targeted obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. As a scientist, Dr. Hughes led Novartis’ efforts to discover and develop its dipeptidylpeptidase IV inhibitor vildagliptin (Galvus®/Eucreas®), a drug used for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, currently approved in 70 countries. Dr. Hughes is the author of more than 40 peer-reviewed publications and is an inventor on numerous issued and pending patents related to the treatment of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity.

Dr. Hughes also serves as a director on the board of Miragen Therapeutics, Inc., and is a member of several scientific and strategic advisory boards, including Broadview Ventures and Nimbus Discovery, LLC.
Brendan Manning’s research is focused on the interface between signaling and metabolic control under physiological and pathophysiological conditions. He is particularly interested in defining the control mechanisms and functions of a complex signaling network that is implicated in a diverse array of human diseases, including the majority of genetic tumor syndromes and cancers; metabolic diseases, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease; neurocognitive and neurodegenerative diseases, such as autism and Alzheimer’s and autoimmune diseases.

As a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Lewis Cantley, Dr. Manning found that the tumor suppressor TSC2 is the key molecular link between the PI3K and mTOR pathways. This finding helped connect a primary growth factor and insulin-stimulated pathway (PI3K), which is also activated in the majority of cancers, to a ubiquitous nutrient-sensing protein kinase that promotes cell growth (mTOR). Since that early landmark discovery, he has continued to make major contributions to our understanding of this key regulatory hub in mammalian cells and tissues, including the recognition that mTOR is a central player in the control of anabolic processes driving the synthesis of proteins, nucleic acids and lipids. His laboratory’s findings are providing both underlying mechanisms and potential therapeutic strategies for common complex diseases, such as cancer and diabetes. In the future, Dr. Manning plans to expand his research to explore molecular events contributing to aging and autism spectrum disorders, other areas where this signaling network has been implicated.

Dr. Manning received his PhD in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology from Yale University in 2000. After completing his postdoctoral training in signal transduction, cell biology, and systems biology at Harvard Medical School, he was recruited to Harvard School of Public Health in 2004, as the first junior faculty member of the then newly established Department of Genetics and Complex Diseases. Dr. Manning is also affiliated with the research programs in cancer cell biology and kidney cancer at Dana Farber/Harvard Cancer Center.
Mark Murcko has directly contributed to 5 marketed drugs and several others currently in mid to late-stage clinical trials.  Dr. Murcko is currently the Principal at Disruptive Biomedical, LLC, an independent consultant and is a Professor of Practice at MIT and SVP, Strategy for Schrödinger, a leading software provider for drug discovery and materials science applications.  Dr. Murcko also currently serves on numerous scientific advisory boards and corporate boards of directors for a diverse range of companies in the biomedical space.

 Until November 2011 Dr. Murcko was Chief Technology Officer and Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board of Vertex Pharmaceuticals.  In this role, he was responsible for the identification, validation, and incorporation of disruptive technologies across global R&D.  Dr. Murcko is a co-inventor of the HCV protease inhibitor Incivek™ (telaprevir), as well as Agenerase™ (amprenavir) and Lexiva™ (fosamprenavir), Vertex's two marketed drugs for HIV. In addition, he guided the early efforts of the Vertex’s cystic fibrosis program that produced the marketed drug Kalydeco™ (ivacaftor) and several other CF compounds currently in late-stage development.  Dr. Murcko is also a co-inventor of 8 other clinical candidates in the areas of cancer, inflammation/immunology, and infectious disease and was responsible for starting many of Vertex's programs in these and other disease areas, notably Vertex’s influenza drug VX-787 currently in phase II.  Prior to Vertex, Dr. Murcko worked at Merck Sharpe & Dohme, where he helped discover clinical candidates against infection and cardiovascular and ocular diseases, including inhibitors of the enzyme carbonic anhydrase for the treatment of glaucoma.  One of Merck's development candidates in this area, Trusopt™ (dorzolamide), became the first marketed drug in pharmaceutical history to result from a structure-based drug design program.

Dr. Murcko has served on the editorial boards of many scientific publications, was the co-organizer of the 2008 ACS National Medicinal Chemistry Symposium, and served as the Chair of the 2013 Gordon Research Conference in Medicinal Chemistry.  He is a co-inventor on more than 50 issued and pending patents, has co-authored more than 85 scientific articles, and has delivered more than 180 invited lectures. He received his Ph.D. in physical organic chemistry from Yale University.

Blake Rasmussen, PhD, is the Interim Chair of the Department of Nutrition and Metabolism in the School of Health Professions. Dr. Rasmussen holds the Lloyd and Sue Ann Hill Endowed Professorship in Healthy Aging and is currently the Director of the Department's Muscle Biology & Metabolism Laboratory and the Leader of the NIH funded Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center Pilot and Exploratory Studies Core at UTMB.

Dr. Rasmussen's research is focused on how nutrition and exercise influence muscle biology and in developing clinical interventions to prevent muscle loss during aging and other muscle wasting conditions. Dr. Rasmussen has published more than 70 papers in the fields of Nutrition, Metabolism and Exercise Physiology.

Currently, Dr. Rasmussen is a member of the Pepper Center executive committee, the UTMB research advisory committee, and the UTMB Institute for Translational Sciences scientific review committee. On the national level, he is a member of the Awards Committee for the American Physiological Society, a frequent member of NIH study sections, on the editorial board of the Journal of Applied Physiology, and an associate member of the University of Kentucky Center for Muscle Biology. On an international level, he has served on several scientific review committees, including The Wellcome Trust, Dunhill Medical Trust and the Biotechnology and Biological Science Research Council, United Kingdom. He joined the UTMB staff in 2004, as an associate professor in the Department of Physical Therapy in the School of Health Professions. Previously, he was an assistant professor at the University of Southern California.

Dr. Rasmussen originally came to UTMB in 1997, as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Surgery/Metabolism, completing his training in 1999. He earned his bachelor's (cum laude) and master's degrees in Exercise Science from Utah State University and a PhD in Zoology/Cell Biology from Brigham Young University in 1997.
Jim Tobin, PhD is the Vice President of Cardiovascular & Metabolic Scientific Innovation at the Johnson & Johnson Innovation Center in Boston. Dr. Tobin is a biotechnology professional with 20 years of drug development experience in the areas of hemostasis, inflammation, muscle degenerative diseases, and diabetes. Most recently, he was an entrepreneur in residence at Atlas Venture and focused on company formation in the life science sector. Prior to joining Atlas, he held the position of Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer at Pfizer leading a research unit focused on the development of biologics for the treatment of metabolic diseases and hemophilia. Previously, Dr. Tobin held the role of Vice President of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Diseases at Wyeth Pharmaceuticals and led the metabolic disease group with a focus on both small molecule and protein therapeutics in type 2 diabetes and muscle disease. Under his direction these groups advanced over 15 biologics and small molecules into clinical development.

Dr. Tobin began his career at Genetics Institute where he was part of the structure based drug discovery group and was involved in the research and development of a number of biopharmaceutical products in inflammation, transplantation and thrombocytopenia, including the marketed product Neumega. He obtained his PhD in Biochemistry from Brandeis University and completed his NRSA postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University. He has authored 51 publications in peer-reviewed journals and is the inventor on 10 patents.