Pankaj Kapahi received his Ph. D. from the University of Manchester where he worked with Tom Kirkwood. He did his postdoctoral work with Seymour Benzer at Caltech and Michael Karin at the University of California at San Diego. He joined the Buck Institute as an Assistant Professor in 2004.
Dr. Kapahi’s lab uses invertebrate models like C. elegans and D. melanogaster, and mice to understand how nutrients influence lifespan and age-related diseases. His laboratory has made significant contributions in the areas of nutrient responses, aging, and metabolism. He was the first to identify the role of the target of rapamycin (TOR) and implicate mRNA translation in mediating lifespan extension by dietary restriction. This work has led to a paradigm shift in the understanding of mechanistic underpinnings of dietary restriction (DR). TOR has emerged as one of the most promising targets for lifespan extension and age-related diseases. Inhibition of the TOR pathway has been shown to extend lifespan in yeast, worms, flies, and recently even mice. Another key contribution of the laboratory has been that modulation of mRNA translation, a critical output of the TOR pathway, plays a significant role in determining lifespan in worms and flies. His laboratory also identified a critical role for enhanced fat turnover and recently circadian clocks in mediating the lifespan extension upon DR. The Kapahi laboratory employs an interdisciplinary approach, combining biochemical, genetic, and genomic techniques, to understand how nutrients and AGEs modulate changes in lifespan and metabolism using D. melanogaster, C. elegans, and mammalian cells. To this end they have recently also been investigating the role of dietary restriction and AGEs in eye aging using flies, mice and humans.