Gokhan Hotamisligil, internationally recognized metabolic disease expert and HSPH professor, to receive award for outstanding contributions to obesity field

For immediate release: Friday, May 7, 2010

Boston, MA — Gökhan S. Hotamisligil, the J.S. Simmons Professor of Genetics and Metabolism and chair of the Department of Genetics and Complex Diseases at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), will receive the prestigious Wertheimer Award from the International Association for the Study of Obesity (IASO) in July in Stockholm, Sweden, and will deliver the opening award lecture.

The award is given for “outstanding basic research contributions to the field of obesity” and is presented only once every four years. Hotamisligil was nominated for the award, not only for his outstanding scientific achievements, but also for his “professional integrity and collegiality…His current and past students and post-doctoral fellows always express their gratitude and admiration for Dr. Hotamisligil, which is evidence of his outstanding role as a mentor in science,” said Mark Febbraio, head of the Cellular and Molecular Metabolism Laboratory and director of Basic Science in the Division of Metabolism and Obesity at the Baker IDI Heart & Diabetes Research Institute in Australia. The ceremony will take place at the 11th International Congress on Obesity.

Hotamisligil and colleagues are providing powerful insight into the genetic bases and possible prevention and treatment of chronic metabolic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. In a cornerstone manuscript published in Nature (Uysal et al., 1997), Hotamisligil and colleagues made a seminal observation that established inflammation as a cause of metabolic disease associated with obesity, said Febbraio. His long series of discoveries since catalyzed a paradigm shift in our understanding of the nature of metabolic disease, providing new avenues of investigation by uncovering biological mechanisms that link chronic inflammation and organelle dysfunction to how the body uses energy. These mechanisms could form the basis of future lifesaving therapies and are widely pursued in academia and industry.

Hotamisligil leads a department that integrates many scientific approaches to fighting complex diseases by exploring how the body’s cells and molecules adapt to environmental and dietary stresses.

“I am determined to unlock the mechanisms by which the body responds to what we eat, breathe, and are exposed to,” said Hotamisligil.

“I have found his professional integrity and collegiality without peer in my scientific field,” said Febbraio.

Hotamisligil received his medical degree from Ankara University in Turkey in 1986 and his PhD from Harvard University in 1994. He has received fellowships and awards from the Markey, Pew, and Sandler Foundations, the American Diabetes Association, and the National Institutes of Health. He is a recipient of the Outstanding Scientific Accomplishment Award of the American Diabetes Association. He is an elected permanent member of the Turkish Academy of Sciences, and was recently elected as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Hotamisligil is also the chair of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) Metabolic Control Program, member of the JDRF research portfolio advisory board, and associate member of Harvard-MIT Broad Institute and Harvard Stem Cell Institute.

The Wertheimer Award is sponsored by the Nature Publishing Group.

For more information, contact:

Christina Roache
croache@hsph.harvard.edu

617-432-6052

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Harvard School of Public Health ( http://www.hsph.harvard.edu ) is dedicated to advancing the public’s health through learning, discovery, and communication. More than 400 faculty members are engaged in teaching and training the 1,000-plus student body in a broad spectrum of disciplines crucial to the health and well being of individuals and populations around the world. Programs and projects range from the molecular biology of AIDS vaccines to the epidemiology of cancer; from risk analysis to violence prevention; from maternal and children’s health to quality of care measurement; from health care management to international health and human rights. For more information on the school visit: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu