Dr. Kennedy’s innovative work in the biology of aging began when he was a doctoral student at MIT. Under the guidance of MIT Professor Leonard Guarente, he contributed to the first studies to show that a class of proteins called Sirtuins influence aging. Currently, he studies the pathways that modulate longevity in life forms ranging from yeast to mice. A major focus of his current research is to study the target of rapamycin (TOR) pathway. TOR generated excitement in the age research field when it was shown recently that the drug rapamycin can extend mouse lifespan. One of the goals of his research is to determine whether pathways like TOR can be regulated to treat the diseases of aging. Specifically, Dr. Kennedy’s lab focuses on cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndromes like type II diabetes. Dr. Kennedy also studies the genetic mutations underlying diseases such as dilated cardiomyopathy, muscular dystrophy and Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome, which resembles premature aging. The mutations being studied affect a class of molecules called A-type nuclear lamins, and the lab is exploring their roles in health and disease.
Dr. Kennedy earned his PhD in Biology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he took part in groundbreaking studies on aging. He completed postdoctoral training at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center in Charlestown, Massachusetts. Dr. Kennedy was an associate professor in the biochemistry department at the University of Washington in Seattle when he was appointed president and chief executive officer of the Buck Institute in 2010.