David M. Sabatini is a biochemist and cell biologist with a long-standing interest in the regulation of growth. He is most recognized for his work on the signaling pathway anchored by the mTOR kinase, which Sabatini discovered when he was a student and has continued to study since then. Sabatini was born in New York City and graduated from Brown University in 1990 with a degree in Biochemistry and from Johns Hopkins Medical School in 1997 with an M.D./Ph.D. He then joined the Whitehead Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts as a Whitehead Fellow, and in 2002 became a Member, at which time he was also appointed to the faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he is now a Professor of Biology. He is also an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and has appointments at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and at the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT. Sabatini has received several awards, including the 2009 Paul Marks Prize for Cancer Research, the 2012 Earl and Thressa Stadtman Scholar Award, and the 2014 National Academy of Sciences Award in Molecular Biology. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2016.

Research Interests

David M. Sabatini's laboratory studies the mechanisms that regulate physiological and pathological growth and metabolism in mammals. His lab has focused significant efforts on the mTOR pathway. This signaling network, the target of the well-known drug rapamycin, is a central regulator of growth and aging and is dysregulated in common diseases, including cancer. The laboratory identified many of the core components of the pathway, including the mTORcontaining complexes mTORC1 and mTORC2, as well as the machinery through which mTORC1 senses amino acids to promote anabolism. This latter work led to the discovery of the direct sensors for leucine and arginine and identified the lysosome as a signaling organelle. Sabatini's laboratory has also studied how feeding and fasting regulate tissue physiology, including hepatic ketogenesis, intestinal stem cell self-renewal, and tumor growth. A part of the laboratory focuses on how central small molecule metabolism affects growth control and has investigated the role of the serine synthesis pathway in cancer and used genetic screens to define essential functions for mitochondria in cell proliferation. Lastly, the laboratory has been active in technology development, and has
created methods for purifying unstable protein complexes, cell-based microarrays for high throughput screening of cDNAs, and genome-scale RNAi and CRISPR/Cas9 libraries that are widely used.

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Primary Section

Section 22: Cellular and Developmental Biology

Secondary Section

Section 21: Biochemistry