Brendan D. Manning

Brendan D. Manning

Professor of Molecular Metabolism

Molecular Metabolism

Other Positions

Director of BPH program

Molecular Metabolism

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Director of the BPH Program

Division of Biological Sciences

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health


Dr. Manning’s research is focused on the interface between signaling and metabolic control under physiological and pathophysiological conditions. He is particularly interested in defining the control mechanisms and functions of a complex signaling network that is implicated in a diverse array of human diseases, including the majority of genetic tumor syndromes and cancers, metabolic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, neurocognitive and neurodegenerative diseases such as autism and Alzheimer’s, and autoimmune diseases. As a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Lewis Cantley, he found that the tumor suppressor TSC2 is the key molecular link between the PI3K and mTOR pathways. This finding helped connect a primary growth factor and insulin-stimulated pathway (PI3K), which is also activated in the majority of cancers, to a ubiquitous nutrient-sensing protein kinase that promotes cell growth (mTOR). Since that early landmark discovery, he has continued to make major contributions to our understanding of this key regulatory hub in mammalian cells and tissues, including the recognition that mTOR is a central player in the control of anabolic processes driving the synthesis of proteins, nucleic acids, and lipids. His laboratory’s findings are providing both underlying mechanisms and potential therapeutic strategies for common complex diseases, such as cancer and diabetes. In the future, Dr. Manning plans to expand his research to explore molecular events contributing to aging and autism spectrum disorders, other areas where this signaling network has been implicated.

Dr. Manning received his PhD in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology from Yale University in 2000. After completing his postdoctoral training in signal transduction, cell biology, and systems biology at Harvard Medical School, he was recruited to the Harvard Chan School in 2004 as the first junior faculty member of the then newly established Department of Genetics and Complex Diseases (which changed its name to the Department of Molecular Metabolism in 2019). Dr. Manning is an affiliated faculty member in the Department of Cell Biology at Harvard Medical School and with the Dana Farber/Harvard Cancer Center.

Cell signaling and metabolism in cancer, metabolic diseases, and aging.

Research in the Manning Lab is delineating how signals from nutrients and growth factors are propagated to coordinately regulate nutrient metabolism, with implications in a wide variety of complex human diseases. Research efforts are focused in part on defining the regulatory mechanisms and functions of the PI3K-mTOR signaling network. This network senses and relays signals from nutrients and other growth cues to control key metabolic processes in cells and tissues. Importantly, frequent dysregulation of this network contributes to a diverse set of seemingly unrelated human diseases, including the majority of human cancers, genetic tumor syndromes (e.g, tuberous sclerosis complex, lymphangioleiomyomatosis, PTEN hamartoma tumor syndrome), metabolic diseases (e.g., obesity, type-2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease), autoimmune and inflammatory diseases (e.g., arthritis, lupus, hepatitis), and neuroglogical disorders (e.g., epilepsy, autism, Alzheimers). This signaling network also influences the lifespan of organisms and serves as a major connection between diet and the aging process. The Manning lab seeks to unravel the complex molecular regulation of the PI3K-mTOR network under both physiological and pathological states, and how its downstream functions contribute to metabolic homeostasis and dysfunction.



A new route to control cell metabolism and growth

March 26, 2019—In a new Science paper, Brendan Manning, professor of genetics and complex diseases, and colleagues reveal how a previously understudied enzyme may help fuel the metabolism of cancer cells and contribute to the development of other…

Targeting tumor metabolic vulnerabilities

December 8, 2017 – A research team at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health has identified a key metabolic vulnerability in some types of tumor cells and discovered a way to exploit it by harnessing well-known immunosuppressant…

Xihong Lin, Brendan Manning, Shuji Ogino receive prestigious NCI awards

October 20, 2015 — It was announced this week that two faculty members from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health—Xihong Lin and Brendan Manning—received prestigious National Cancer Institute Outstanding Investigator Awards (OIA). These multimillion-dollar seven-year awards, providing…