Pankaj Kapahi, PhD, Associate Professor
Understanding the role of nutrition and energy metabolism in lifespan and disease
Dr. Kapahi looks for clues to longevity. His work confirms the finding that diet plays a major role in aging, and age-related diseases. The Kapahi lab explores molecular mechanisms in a search for strategies to extend healthy lifespan in people. For example, the Kapahi lab found that a low-protein diet could lengthen the lives of fruit flies – a result that challenged the wisdom of the high-protein Atkins diet for weight loss. The low-protein regimen activated genes that led to greater energy production in the cell’s powerhouse units, the mitochondria. Thus, the low protein diet compensated for the age-related decline in performance seen in mitochondria. This effect was mediated by a growth signaling pathway called the TOR pathway, which is involved in cancer and diabetes. Dr. Kapahi was the first to demonstrate that the TOR pathway mediates the effects of dietary restriction. The benefits of dietary restriction are seen across all species, and humans also share the cellular mechanisms that link diet to longevity in fruit flies.
Dr. Kapahi received his PhD from the University of Manchester, UK, and completed postdoctoral studies at the University of California, San Diego and at the California Institute of Technology. He joined the Buck Institute in 2004. Dr. Kapahi is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the Ellison Medical Foundation New Scholar award, the Eureka award from the NIH, and the Nathan Shock New Investigator Award from The American Gerontological Society.
Dr. Kapahi welcomes media inquiries on the following subjects:
Dietary and caloric restriction, nutrition and aging, target of rapamycin (TOR) pathway.
“Our research will help us understand the molecular basis of the impact of nutrition on aging and age-related diseases in humans.’’
- Pankaj Kapahi, PhD