A leading cancer researcher whose transformative research into the mechanisms that drive the development of cancer has encouraged new approaches to therapy, Dr. Cantley is credited with discovering a family of enzymes that are fundamental to cell growth. His most significant contribution to cancer research has been his 1988 discovery of the phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) signaling pathway. This work revealed how biochemical signaling pathways control normal cell growth and trigger the development of cancer when they are defective. His demonstration of how PI3K is activated by growth factors and oncogenes, coupled with the delineation of the PI3K pathway, including Akt/PKB, have been critically important for the development of personalized cancer therapies. Dr. Cantley ‘s work has also indicated that PI3K is a significant factor in both insulin signaling and immune cell signaling, which has major implications for the treatment of diabetes and other immune-related diseases.
Dr. Cantley’s passion for science has been inspired, in part, by seminal biochemical and signaling studies conducted in the 1960s by Jacque Monod, Peter Mitchel, Efraim Racker, Edwin Krebs, and Edmund Fischer. His own early research, directed by Gordon Hammes at Cornell University, concentrated on protein conformational changes and enzyme kinetics. Importantly, his early focus on the structure and function of metabolic enzymes has been fundamental to his current work, which continues to revolve around defining the regulatory roles of cellular phophoinositides and cellular metabolism. Dr. Cantley is a leader of the Stand Up to Cancer Dream Team, “Targeting PI3K in Women’s Cancer,” and serves as founding co-editor-in-chief of Cancer Discovery, one of AACR’s newest journals.
2015 AACR Princess Takamatsu Memorial Lectureship Award
2013 Inaugural Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences
2012-2015 Board of Directors, AACR
2011-Present Co-Editor-in-Chief, Cancer Discovery
2009 Rolf Luft Award, Karolinska Institute
2005 Pezcoller Foundation-AACR International Award for Cancer Research
2002 Caledonian Prize Lectureship in Biomedical Science, Royal Society of Edinburgh
2001 Elected Member, National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C.
2000 Heinrich Wieland Prize, Boehringer Ingelheim
1999 Elected Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences
1998 Avanti Award in Lipids, ASBMB
1975 PhD, Cornell University