Tobias Walther

Last updated

Tobias C. Walther is the chair of the cell biology program at Sloan Kettering Institute in New York City and a professor at Weill Cornell School of Medicine, where he co-directs the Farese and Walther lab. He has been a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator since 2015. [1] His primary responsibilities are to provide leadership in research and teaching in the scientific fields of metabolism, membrane biology and lipids. [2]


Walther's laboratory research seeks to understand the mechanisms that regulate lipid metabolism, lipid storage, and lipid function in membranes or as signaling molecules. [3] Walther's research is focused on the mechanisms by which cells regulate their lipid content and the impact of intracellular lipids on cellular functioning. [4] The laboratory also investigates lipid metabolism in human pathologies, such as cancer and neurodegenerative disease.

Walther was an associate professor of cell biology at the Yale School of Medicine. [5] While at Yale, Walther positioned his laboratory at the forefront of the rapidly growing field of lipid droplet biology. [6] [7] His group extensively studied proteins required to adjust lipid droplet size and composition according to the cellular state. Additionally, his research focused on organelle biogenesis and membrane biology. At Yale, Walther also oversaw the High Throughput Cell Biology Center at Yale's West Campus. Moving to Harvard, Walther is working in a scientific partnership with Robert V. Farese, Jr., on the biochemistry, cell biology, and genetics of lipid metabolism and homeostasis. For their research, Farese and Walther have been using a variety of state-of-the systems biology approaches, such as mass spectrometry-based proteomics and high-content screening.Á

From 2014 to 2022, Walther was a professor at Harvard and the Executive Director of the Harvard Chan School Analytics Center and Director of the Harvard Chan Research Center on Causes and Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease .

Walther was selected as an American Society for Cell Biology Fellow in 2020. [8] He also is the recipient of the 2021 ASBMB-Merck Award for outstanding contributions in biochemistry and molecular biology (together with Robert Farese, Jr.) 2022 ASBMB awards


Walther received his PhD in biology from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory and Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich in 2002. Walther then joined the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco, to complete his postdoctoral studies. After completion of his postdoctoral training, Walther became group leader at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried, Germany. In 2010, Walther relocated his lab from Germany to the United States and was appointed as an associate professor of Cell Biology at the Yale School of Medicine, and in 2014 to Harvard Cell Biology and Harvard Molecular Metabolism.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry</span>

The Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) is a research institute of the Max Planck Society located in Martinsried, a suburb of Munich. The institute was founded in 1973 by the merger of three formerly independent institutes: the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, the Max Planck Institute of Protein and Leather Research, and the Max Planck Institute of Cell Chemistry.

Lipid metabolism is the synthesis and degradation of lipids in cells, involving the breakdown and storage of fats for energy and the synthesis of structural and functional lipids, such as those involved in the construction of cell membranes. In animals, these fats are obtained from food and are synthesized by the liver. Lipogenesis is the process of synthesizing these fats. The majority of lipids found in the human body from ingesting food are triglycerides and cholesterol. Other types of lipids found in the body are fatty acids and membrane lipids. Lipid metabolism is often considered as the digestion and absorption process of dietary fat; however, there are two sources of fats that organisms can use to obtain energy: from consumed dietary fats and from stored fat. Vertebrates use both sources of fat to produce energy for organs such as the heart to function. Since lipids are hydrophobic molecules, they need to be solubilized before their metabolism can begin. Lipid metabolism often begins with hydrolysis, which occurs with the help of various enzymes in the digestive system. Lipid metabolism also occurs in plants, though the processes differ in some ways when compared to animals. The second step after the hydrolysis is the absorption of the fatty acids into the epithelial cells of the intestinal wall. In the epithelial cells, fatty acids are packaged and transported to the rest of the body.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John Kuriyan</span> American biochemist

John Kuriyan is the Dean of Basic Sciences and a Professor of Biochemistry at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. He was formerly the Chancellor's Professor at the University of California, Berkeley in the departments of Molecular and Cell Biology (MCB) and Chemistry, a Faculty Scientist in Berkeley Lab's Physical Biosciences Division, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and he has also been on the Life Sciences jury for the Infosys Prize in 2009, 2019 and 2020.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology</span> Organization founded in 1906

The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) is a learned society that was founded on December 26, 1906, at a meeting organized by John Jacob Abel. The roots of the society were in the American Physiological Society, which had been formed some 20 years earlier. ASBMB is the US member of the International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Pietro De Camilli NAS, AAA&S, NAM is an Italian-American biologist and John Klingenstein Professor of Neuroscience and Cell Biology at Yale University School of Medicine. He is also an Investigator at Howard Hughes Medical Institute. De Camilli completed his M.D. degree from the University of Milan in Italy in 1972. He then went to the United States and did his postdoctoral studies at Yale University with Paul Greengard.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Avery August</span> Belizean-born American scientist (born 1964)

Avery August is a Belizean-born American scientist who is currently a professor of immunology and vice provost at Cornell University.

Utpal Banerjee is a Distinguished Professor of the Department of Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology at UCLA. He obtained his Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from St. Stephen's College, Delhi University, India and obtained his Master of Science degree in Physical Chemistry from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, India. In 1984, he obtained a PhD in Chemistry from the California Institute of Technology where he was also a Postdoctoral Fellow in the laboratory of Seymour Benzer from 1984-1988.

Lipid droplets, also referred to as lipid bodies, oil bodies or adiposomes, are lipid-rich cellular organelles that regulate the storage and hydrolysis of neutral lipids and are found largely in the adipose tissue. They also serve as a reservoir for cholesterol and acyl-glycerols for membrane formation and maintenance. Lipid droplets are found in all eukaryotic organisms and store a large portion of lipids in mammalian adipocytes. Initially, these lipid droplets were considered to merely serve as fat depots, but since the discovery in the 1990s of proteins in the lipid droplet coat that regulate lipid droplet dynamics and lipid metabolism, lipid droplets are seen as highly dynamic organelles that play a very important role in the regulation of intracellular lipid storage and lipid metabolism. The role of lipid droplets outside of lipid and cholesterol storage has recently begun to be elucidated and includes a close association to inflammatory responses through the synthesis and metabolism of eicosanoids and to metabolic disorders such as obesity, cancer, and atherosclerosis. In non-adipocytes, lipid droplets are known to play a role in protection from lipotoxicity by storage of fatty acids in the form of neutral triacylglycerol, which consists of three fatty acids bound to glycerol. Alternatively, fatty acids can be converted to lipid intermediates like diacylglycerol (DAG), ceramides and fatty acyl-CoAs. These lipid intermediates can impair insulin signaling, which is referred to as lipid-induced insulin resistance and lipotoxicity. Lipid droplets also serve as platforms for protein binding and degradation. Finally, lipid droplets are known to be exploited by pathogens such as the hepatitis C virus, the dengue virus and Chlamydia trachomatis among others.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jennifer Stow</span> Australian scientist

Jennifer Lea Stow is deputy director (research), NHMRC Principal Research Fellow and head of the Protein Trafficking and Inflammation laboratory at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB), The University of Queensland, Australia. She was awarded her PhD from Monash University in Melbourne in 1982. As a Fogarty International Fellow, she completed postdoctoral training at Yale University School of Medicine (US) in the Department of Cell Biology. She was then appointed to her first faculty position as an assistant professor at Harvard University in the Renal Unit, Departments of Medicine and Pathology at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. At the end of 1994 she returned to Australia as a Wellcome Trust Senior International Medical Research fellow at The University of Queensland where her work has continued. Stow sits on national and international peer review and scientific committees and advisory boards. She has served as head of IMB's Division of Molecular Cell Biology, and in 2008 she was appointed as deputy director (research).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Volker Haucke</span>

Volker Haucke is a biochemist and cell biologist. He is Director of the Leibniz-Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pharmakologie Berlin (FMP) Berlin and Professor of Molecular Pharmacology at the Institute for Pharmacy of the Free University of Berlin.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mark A. Lemmon</span> English biochemist (born 1964)

Mark Andrew Lemmon an English-born biochemist, is the Alfred Gilman Professor of Pharmacology at Yale University where he also directs the Cancer Biology Institute.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kai Simons</span>

Kai Simons is a Finnish professor of biochemistry and cell biology and physician living and working in Germany. He introduced the concept of lipid rafts, as well as coined the term trans-Golgi network and proposed its role in protein and lipid sorting. The co-founder and co-organizer of EMBO, ELSO, Simons initiated the foundation of MPI-CBG, where he acted as a director (1998–2006) and a group-leader. He is the co-founder and co-owner of Lipotype GmbH.

Philip Siekevitz was an American cell biologist who spent most of his career at Rockefeller University. He was involved in early studies of protein synthesis and trafficking, established purification techniques to facilitate study of the cell nucleus, worked with Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine winner George Palade on cell membrane dynamics, and published extensively on the subject of postsynaptic density.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gökhan S. Hotamisligil</span> American geneticist

Gökhan S. Hotamisligil is a Turkish-American physician scientist; James Stevens Simmons Chair of Genetics and Metabolism at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (HSPH); Director of the Sabri Ülker Center for Metabolic Research and associate member of Harvard-MIT Broad Institute, Harvard Stem Cell Institute and the Joslin Diabetes Center.

Marion Sewer (1972-2016) was a pharmacologist and professor at the University of California, San Diego's Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences known for her research on steroid hormone biogenesis and her commitment to increasing diversity in science. Much of her research centered around cytochrome P450, a family of enzymes involved in the conversion of cholesterol into steroid hormones. She died unexpectedly at the age of 43 from a pulmonary embolism on January 28, 2016, while traveling through the Detroit airport.

Kim Orth is a microbiologist and biochemist. She is currently the Earl A. Forsythe chair in biomedical science and professor of molecular biology and biochemistry at UT Southwestern. She is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. Her research focuses on bacterial pathogenesis.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jean E. Schaffer</span> American cardiologist and scientist

Jean Elise Schaffer is an American physician-scientist. She is a Senior Investigator at the Joslin Diabetes Center, where she also serves as Associate Research Director, and she is Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Her work focuses on fundamental mechanisms of metabolic stress responses and the pathophysiology of diabetes complications.

Barry H. Honig is an American biochemist, molecular biophysicist, and computational biophysicist, who develops theoretical methods and computer software for "analyzing the structure and function of biological macromolecules."

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Alexandra Newton</span> US-based Protein Kinase C expert

Alexandra C. Newton is a Canadian and American biochemist. She is a Distinguished Professor of pharmacology at the University of California, San Diego. Newton runs a multidisciplinary Protein kinase C and Cell signaling biochemistry and cell biology research group in the School of Medicine, investigating molecular mechanisms of signal transduction in the Phospholipase C (PLC) and Phosphoinositide 3-kinase signaling pathways. She has been continuously funded by the US National Institutes of Health since 1988.

Yusuf A. Hannun is an American molecular biologist, biochemist, and clinician. He is known for the discovery that sphingolipids have signaling functions.


  1. "HHMI Selects 26 of the Nation's Top Biomedical Scientists". Retrieved 2020-09-26.
  2. HSPH Faculty Page for Tobias C. Walther
  3. Lipid Pathways in Biology and Disease (C3), Conference organized by Michael P. Czech, Tobias C. Walther and Morris J. Birnbaum, March 19—24, 2014, Royal Dublin Society, Dublin, Ireland
  4. Website of The Walther Lab at Yale
  5. Hathaway B, Faculty in the News: Not all fat is packaged the same way, Yale researchers find, Cell Biology, Yale School of Medicine, Thursday, February 14, 2013, accessed July 7, 2014
  6. Lipid droplet biology, Mathias Beller page, Max-Planck-Institut für biophysikalische Chemie website
  7. Ohsaki1 Y, Suzuki1 M, Fujimoto1 T, Open Questions in Lipid Droplet Biology, Chemistry & Biology, 2014 (January 16), 21(1):86–96, DOI: 10.1016/j.chembiol.2013.08.009
  8. "ASCB Names 18 Members as Its 2020 Fellows Cohort". Retrieved 2020-09-26.