Cantley to speak at Wesleyan commencement

Dr. Lewis Cantley Jr. class of ’71, American cell biologist and biochemist, will deliver the key-note address during West Virginia Wesleyan College’s commencement ceremony, slated for 10 a.m. May 10 in the John D. Rockefeller IV Physical Education Center on the Buckhannon campus.

After graduating magna cum laude from West Virginia Wesleyan College, where he served as president of the Benzene Ring, Cantley earned his Ph.D. in biochemistry from Cornell University.

Upon his graduation from Cornell University, he became an assistant professor in chemistry at Harvard University, taught at Tufts Medical School for five years, and returned to Harvard Medical School where he led a lab of 30 post-doctorates and discovered a previously unknown enzyme in the human body. This enzyme, called PI3-E-kinase, provides a signaling pathway key to understanding cancer cells and is currently being used to develop treatments for various forms of cancer.

Cantley won the Jacobeaus Prize by the Novo Nordisk Foundation at the Karolinska Institute in Norway for this discovery and its role in diabetes and cancer in 2013.

Cantley ultimately became the director of Cancer Research for the Harvard Medical School, as well as director of signal pathways. He has won the award of Team Leader for Stand Up to Cancer and was featured in a 2013 issue of Time for the cover article “How to Cure Cancer.”

He also was one of 11 inaugural winners of the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, a $3 million award funded by Apple chairman Art Levinson, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and others.

A co-founder of Agios Pharmaceuticals, Cantley is a member of the advisory board of AVEO Pharmaceuticals and the advisory board of TransMolecular, Inc. His work has been featured on national programming, including the ’60 Minutes’ segment “Is Sugar Toxic?”

Cantley’s continued research has won him many accolades, including the Rolf Luft Award of the Karolinska Institute, Pezcoller-AACR International Award for Cancer Research, Caledonian Prize from the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Heinrich Wieland Prize for Lipid Research, and the ASBMB Advanti Award for Lipid Research. He also has been elected to the National Academy of the Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Cantley will be receiving a Doctor of Science honorary degree at the commencement ceremony.