Rolf Luft Award 2009
Professor Lewis Cantley, Harvard Medical School, has been selected as the recipient of the Rolf Luft Award 2009 for his discovery of a phosphoinositide kinase that is activated by growth factor receptors and oncoproteins and is a key component of the insulin signal transduction pathway.
Dr Lewis Cantley has discovered a phosphoinositide kinase, PI 3-kinase, that is activated by growth factor receptors and by oncoproteins. Further characterization of this enzyme revealed that it catalyzes an unexpected reaction, namely the phosphorylation of phosphatidylinositol at the D-3 position of the inositol ring, leading to the discovery of a new signal transduction pathway. Subsequent research from Cantley's laboratory and other laboratories has shown that PI 3-kinase activation is critical for oncogene-mediated cell transformation, as well as for insulin-dependent stimulation of glucose uptake and metabolism. Further work revealed that lipid products of PI 3-kinase directly activate the AKT/PKB protein kinase another key element of the insulin signaling pathway. The discovery that the PTEN tumor suppressor gene encoded a phosphatase that dephosphorylates the lipid products of PI 3-kinase further highlights the importance of this pathway to growth and human cancer.
The Prize Lecture "PI 3-Kinase and glucose metabolism" was held on October 6, 2009.