2013 Symposium Speakers

Anne Brunet, PhD
Stanford University
 
Anne Brunet is an Associate Professor in the Department of Genetics at Stanford University. Dr. Brunet obtained her B.Sc. from the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris, France and her Ph.D. from the University of Nice, France. She did her postdoctoral research training in Dr. Michael Greenberg’s lab at Harvard Medical School.
 
Dr. Brunet is interested in the molecular mechanisms of aging and longevity, with a particular emphasis on the nervous system. Her lab studies the molecular mechanism of action of known longevity genes, including FOXO transcription factors, in mammalian cells and organisms. She is particularly interested in the role of longevity genes in neural stem cells during aging. Another goal of the Brunet lab is to discover novel genes and processes regulating longevity using two model systems, the invertebrate C. elegans and an extremely short-lived vertebrate,
the African killifish N. furzeri.
 
Dr. Brunet has received several grants from the National Institute on Aging to study the importance of FOXO transcription factors in aging neural stem cells, the molecular mechanisms of dietary restriction, and to develop genetic tools for the short-lived fish N. furzeri. She has published over 50 peer-reviewed papers, reviews, and book chapters. She has received a number of awards, including the Pfizer/AFAR Innovations in Aging Research Award, a Junior Investigator Award from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, a Glenn Foundation for Medical Research Award, an Ellison Medical Foundation Senior Scholar Award, and the 2012 Vincent Cristofalo “Rising Star” Award in Aging Research. This fall, she was awarded a Pioneer Award from the NIH Director’s fund, an award that supports scientists of exceptional creativity, who propose pioneering and transforming approaches to major challenges in biomedical research.
 

 
Lewis Cantley, PhD
The Cancer Center at Weill Cornell Medical College and New York-Presbyterian Hospital
 
Lewis Cantley is Director of the Cancer Center at Weill Cornell Medical College and New York-Presbyterian Hospital and Professor of Cell Biology in Medicine and the Margaret and Herman Sokol Professor in Oncology Research at the Weill Cornell Medical College of Cornell University. Prior to joining Weill Cornell he directed the Cancer Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and was Chief of the Division of Signal Transduction. He was a founding member of Harvard Medical School’s Systems Biology Department. Dr. Cantley graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. in chemistry from West Virginia Wesleyan College in 1971, and obtained a Ph.D. in biophysical chemistry from Cornell University in 1975. He did postdoctoral research at Harvard University after which he was appointed assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University.
 
Dr. Cantley is a world-renowned expert on the phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) signaling pathway. His research is focused on understanding the mechanisms by which PI3K is activated and elucidating the downstream eff ects of PI3K activation. Dr. Cantley’s laboratory has developed numerous innovative technologies including an oriented peptide library approach that has revealed the structural basis for regulated interaction of signaling proteins. Currently, he is exploring the role of the PI3K pathway in cancer and diabetes by developing mouse models in which genes for enzymes in this pathway are altered.
 
Dr. Cantley was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1999 and to the National Academy of Sciences in 2001. He has also won numerous awards, including the ASBMB Avanti Award for Lipid Research, the Heinrich Weiland Preis for Lipid Research, the Caledonian Prize from the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Pezcoller Foundation–AACR International Award for Cancer Research, the Rolf Luft Award for Diabetes and Endocrinology Research from the Karolinska Institute, and the Pasrow Prize for Cancer Research. In March 2013 he was named one of the 11 inaugural winners of the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences for Excellence in Cancer Research.
 

 
Joseph L. Goldstein, MD
UT Southwestern Medical Center, HHMI
 
Joseph L. Goldstein is currently Chairman of the Department of Molecular Genetics at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. In 1985, he was named Regental Professor of the University of Texas. He also holds the Paul J. Thomas Chair in Medicine and the Julie and Louis A. Beecherl Distinguished Chair in Biomedical Science.
 
Dr. Goldstein and his colleague, Michael S. Brown, discovered the low density lipoprotein (LDL) receptor and worked out how these receptors control cholesterol homeostasis. At the basic level, this work opened the fi eld of receptor-mediated endocytosis, and at the clinical level it helped lay the conceptual groundwork for development of drugs called statins that lower blood LDL-cholesterol and prevent heart attacks. Drs. Goldstein and Brown shared many awards for this work, including the Lasker Award in Basic Medical Research (1985), Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (1985), and National Medal of Science (1988).
 
In recent work, Drs. Goldstein and Brown discovered the SREBP family of transcription factors and showed how these membrane-bound molecules control the synthesis of cholesterol and fatty acids through a newly described process of Regulated Intramembrane Proteolysis. For this work, Drs. Brown and Goldstein received the Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research (2003).
 
Dr. Goldstein is currently Chairman of the Albert Lasker Medical Research Awards Jury and is a member of the Boards of Trustees of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and The Rockefeller University. He also serves on the Scientific Advisory Boards of the Welch Foundation, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Broad Institute, and the Scripps Research Institute. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and a Foreign Member of the Royal Society.
 

 

Beth Levine, MD

UT Southwestern Medical Center, HHMI
 
Beth Levine is Professor in the departments of Internal Medicine and Microbiology and the Charles Cameron Sprague Distinguished Chair in Biomedical Science.
 
Dr. Levine is internationally recognized as a leading authority in the field of virus-host interactions and in the field of autophagy. She received an A.B. from Brown University, an M.D. from Weill Cornell University Medical College, and completed her postdoctoral training in Infectious Diseases/Viral Pathogenesis at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. In 1993, she joined the faculty at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons where she became Associate Professor of Medicine. In 2004, she was named the Jay P. Sanford Professor and Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at UT Southwestern Medical Center. In 2011, she became the Director of a newly created Center for Autophagy Research at UT Southwestern and the Charles Cameron Sprague Distinguished Chair in Biomedical
Science. Since 2008, she has been a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator.
 
Dr. Levine’s laboratory has made fundamental discoveries that have helped to open up a new fi eld of biomedical research – the role of autophagy in human health and disease. Her laboratory identified the mammalian autophagy gene, beclin 1, and defined a role for beclin 1 and the autophagy pathway in tumor suppression, antiviral immunity, development, cell death regulation, lifespan regulation, and exercise-induced metabolic effects. She is a recipient of numerous awards for her research including the 2008 Edith and Peter O’Donnell Award in Medicine from The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas. In 2004, she received a Senior Scholars Award from the Ellison Medical Foundation. Dr. Levine was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2013.
 


Norbert Perrimon, PhD
Harvard Medical School, HHMI
 
Dr. Perrimon is Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School and Associate Member of the Broad Institute of Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. His research is focused on using functional genomic approaches to identify molecular mechanisms that link physiology, cell biology and cell differentiation. His laboratory is currently applying large-scale RNAi and proteomic methods to obtain a global understanding of the structure of a number of signaling pathways and their cross-talks. In addition, he is studying the roles of signaling pathways in homeostasis and tissue remodeling in Drosophila muscles and gut stem cells.
 
Dr. Perrimon’s lab has characterized many signaling components of receptor tyrosine kinases, Wnt and JAK/STAT pathways, in particular. Regarding large scale functional genomics, his group established high-throughout genome-wide RNAi screens to systematically interrogate the entire Drosophila genome in various cell-based assays, demonstrated that long dsRNAs are associated with off target effects, established a cross-species method for rescue of RNAi phenotypes, developed RNAi methods in primary embryonic cell cultures, and generated algorithms for automated image analyses. In 2003 he created the Drosophila RNAi Screening Center (DRSC) at Harvard Medical School to make this technology available to
the community.
 
His group has also developed numerous methods that have significantly improved the Drosophila toolbox including: the FLP-FRT Dominant Female Sterile technique to generate mosaics in the female germline; the Gal4-UAS method to control gene expression both spatially and temporally; the “Positively Marked Labeling Method” for lineage analyses; and thermosensitive inteins to generate conditional alleles. In 2008, his group established the Transgenic RNAi Project (TRiP) at Harvard Medical School to build a genome scale resource of transgenic shRNA flies.
 


David M. Sabatini, MD, PhD
MIT, Whitehead Institute, HHMI
 
David M. Sabatini is a member of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, senior associate member at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, member of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT, and an associate professor of biology at MIT. He is also an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Dr. Sabatini received his B.S. from Brown University magna cum laude and his M.D./Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in 1997. He completed his thesis work in the lab of Dr. Solomon H. Snyder in the Department of Neuroscience. He was subsequently appointed a Whitehead Fellow at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research that same year. In 2002, he received a dual appointment as a member at the Whitehead Institute and assistant professor of biology at MIT.
 
Dr. Sabatini and his lab study the basic mechanisms that regulate cell growth. A major focus of the lab is on the TOR pathway, a major regulator of growth in many eukaryotic species. Work in the Sabatini 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. Dr. Sabatini’s lab has developed and is using new technologies that facilitate the analysis of gene function in mammalian cells such as “cell-based microarrays” that allow one to examine the cellular effects of perturbing the activity of thousands of genes in parallel. Dr. Sabatini 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 targeting human and mouse genes.
 
Dr. Sabatini has received a number of distinctions, including being named a W. M. Keck Foundation Distinguished Young Scholar, a Pew Scholar, 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.
 

 
Gerald I. Shulman, MD, PhD
Yale University, HHMI
 
Dr. Shulman is an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the George R. Cowgill Professor of Physiological Chemistry, Medicine and Cellular & Molecular Physiology at Yale University. He is also Co-Director of the Yale Diabetes Research Center. Dr. Shulman completed his undergraduate studies in biophysics at the University of Michigan, and he received his M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from Wayne State University. Following internship and residency at Duke University Medical Center, he did an endocrinology fellowship at the Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School and additional postdoctoral work in molecular biophysics and biochemistry at Yale before joining the faculty at Harvard Medical School. He was subsequently recruited back to Yale and has remained there ever since.
 
Dr. Shulman has pioneered the use of magnetic resonance spectroscopy to non-invasively examine intracellular glucose and fat metabolism in humans. Using this approach, he has conducted ground breaking basic and clinical investigative studies on the cellular mechanisms of insulin resistance in humans that have led to several paradigm shifts in our understanding of type 2 diabetes. Dr. Shulman has authored and co-authored over 340 peer-reviewed publications, and he has also trained more than 60 postdoctoral fellows and graduate students, many of whom now direct their own independent laboratories around the world. Dr. Shulman is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and he has been elected to the American Society for Clinical Investigation, the Association of American Physicians, the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences.
 

 
Scott M. Sternson, PhD
Janelia Farm Research Campus, HHMI
 
Scott Sternson is a Group Leader at the Janelia Farm Research Campus of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Dr. Sternson received his PhD in Chemistry from Harvard University, working with Stuart Schreiber on the synthesis and development of new probes to manipulate cellular function. After realizing a desire to work on a fundamental behavioral problem using molecular genetics integrated with neurophysiology, he did a postdoctoral fellowship with Jeffrey Friedman at Rockefeller University and also worked in Karel Svoboda’s lab (then at Cold Spring Harbor) to map molecularly-defined neural circuits regulating feeding behavior.
 
At Janelia Farm, the Sternson lab is focused on understanding the circuit mechanisms underlying basic motivations such as hunger. In particular, the lab focuses on neurons that sense internal energy levels and also infl uence feeding behavior. They have shown that activation of AGRP neurons, a hypothalamic neuron population, is sufficient to rapidly orchestrate voracious feeding behavior without training. By targeting this interoceptive sensory neuron for a fundamental bodily need for nutrients, Dr. Sternson and co-workers have defined a starting point for motivational circuits.
 
Using viral methods, optogenetic techniques, and electrophysiology to map functional circuit connectivity, the lab also investigates the behavioral mechanisms that underlie AGRP neuron-evoked feeding while relating this to specific circuit properties as well as the molecular mechanisms regulating the hormonal control of electrical activity in AGRP neurons. These studies have revealed a remarkable positive feedback mechanism responsible for synaptic plasticity of excitatory synapses onto AGRP neurons.