The 2009 winners are Arul M. Chinnaiyan at the University of Michigan, who discovered chromosome rearrangements that lead to prostate cancer; Matthew L. Meyerson at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, who discovered mutations in lung cancer cells; and David M. Sabatini at the Whitehead Institute, who discovered a pathway that helps regulate the growth of cancer cells.
Arul M. Chinnaiyan
Arul M. Chinnaiyan, MD, PhD, is S. P. Hicks Endowed Professor of Pathology and a professor in the Department of Pathology and Urology at the University of Michigan Medical Center. He is also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and an American Cancer Society Research Professor. His most important discovery to date is the finding that more than half of all prostate cancers are the result of a gene fusion known as TMPRSS2-ETS. Today researchers believe that the TMPRSS2-ETS fusion drives the formation of many prostate cancers, and finding small-molecule drugs to inhibit cancer growth is an important focus of Dr. Chinnaiyan’s work. Dr. Chinnaiyan also has been active in the wider research community, as co-creator of the Oncomine Research Platform, an online database containing cancer gene expression analysis information for academic researchers. In addition, he is a board-certified pathologist who develops and implements new molecular tests for the diagnosis and prognosis of cancer. Dr. Chinnaiyan received his MD degree and a PhD degree in pathology from the University of Michigan Medical Center.
Matthew L. Meyerson
Matthew L. Meyerson, MD, PhD, is Director of the Center for Cancer Genome Discovery at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, a professor of pathology at Harvard Medical School, and a senior associate member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. He is a leader in the field of cancer genomics, especially in the area of lung cancer. A major focus for his work has been determining the role that mutations in the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene play in lung cancer, especially its response to the targeted therapies erlotinib (Tarceva®) and gefitinib (Iressa®). Dr. Meyerson has been active in the study of other cancer-related genes, and is a leader in the Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) project, which was initiated by the National Cancer Institute in 2006 to improve the understanding of the molecular basis of cancer. Finally, Dr. Meyerson’s laboratory has developed a new approach to finding cancer-causing microbes. Dr. Meyerson received his MD degree from Harvard Medical School and his PhD degree from Harvard University.
David M. Sabatini
David M. Sabatini, MD, PhD, is an associate professor of biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a member of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. He is also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. During graduate school, Dr. Sabatini identified the mTOR protein kinase, a key protein in regulating cell growth, proliferation, and survival. He has continued to study the protein and its signaling pathway, characterizing other related proteins and helping to determine how the mTOR pathway relates to cancer. His work with mTOR required him to develop many new technologies that are now being used in laboratories around the world to study signaling pathways. He also has been a leader in the RNAi Consortium, a multi-institutional effort to generate a library of RNAi reagents targeting every human gene. Because the mTOR pathway is regulated by nutrients, much of Dr. Sabatini’s current work is focused on how metabolism, including the restriction of calories in the diet, affects cancer. Dr. Sabatini earned his MD and PhD degrees from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.