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Event Detail (Archived)

PI 3-Kinase: Linking Obesity, Insulin Resistance, and Cancer

The Philip Levine Memorial Lecture

Event Details

Friday Lecture Series
Lewis Cantley, Ph.D., Meyer Director of the Sandra and Edward Meyer Cancer Center, professor of cancer biology in medicine, Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital

Phosphoinositide 3-Kinase (PI3K) is activated by insulin and other growth factors to mediate cell growth. The PI3K enzyme encoded by the PIK3CA gene is one of the most frequently mutated oncogenes in human cancer. Retrospective studies have shown that cancers correlating with obesity and insulin resistance (conditions where serum insulin levels are high)—such as endometrial, breast, and colorectal cancers—frequently have activating mutations in PIK3CA. This suggests a model in which tumors with these mutations are highly sensitized to insulin-dependent growth. Several drugs that inhibit PI3K are in phase 3 approval trials for breast cancer and, as expected, cause acute elevation in serum glucose due to inhibition of insulin signaling in liver, muscle, and fat. This increase leads to a dramatic elevation in serum insulin, ultimately bringing serum glucose back to normal levels, despite continued high levels of PI3K inhibitor. This model raises the possibility that the elevation in serum insulin may compromise the effectiveness of PI3K inhibitors. Data will be presented showing that dietary interventions that limit elevation of serum insulin improve responses to PI3K inhibitors in mouse models of cancer.

In 1971, Dr. Cantley graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. in chemistry from West Virginia Wesleyan College and in 1975 obtained a Ph.D. in biophysical chemistry from Cornell University. He conducted postdoctoral research at Harvard University, where he was appointed assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology in 1978. He left for Tufts University in 1985, but returned to Harvard Medical School in 1992. Dr. Cantley was appointed director of the Beth Israel Deaconess Cancer Center in 2007. He joined Weill Cornell Medicine as the Meyer Director of the Sandra and Edward Meyer Cancer Center in 2012.

Dr. Cantley’s accolades include the ASBMB Avanti Award for Lipid Research, the Heinrich Wieland Prize for Lipid Research, the Caledonian Prize, the Pezcoller Foundation–AACR International Award for Cancer Research, the Rolf Luft Award for Diabetes and Endocrinology Research, the Pasarow Prize for Cancer Research, the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, the Jacobaeus Prize for Diabetes Research, the AACR Princess Takamatsu Memorial Lectureship, the Ross Prize in Molecular Medicine, the Canada Gairdner International Award, the AACI Distinguished Scientist Award, the Hope Funds Award of Excellence in Basic Science, the Wolf Prize, and the NCI Outstanding Investigator Award. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the National Academy of Science, the National Academy of Medicine, and the European life sciences academy EMBO.

Justin Sloboda
(212) 327-7785
Open to
Titia de Lange, Ph.D.
Refreshments, 3:15 p.m. - 3:45 p.m., Abby Lounge
Justin Sloboda
(212) 327-7785

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