Newswise — DALLAS – April 23, 2014 – Dr. Joel Elmquist, Director of the Center for Hypothalamic Research at UT Southwestern Medical Center, has been awarded the American Diabetes Association’s Outstanding Scientific Achievement Award, the organization’s top honor for an early-career scientist. Earlier today, the association announced its selection of Dr. Elmquist, who was nominated by four previous winners of the prestigious award. Dr. Elmquist was recognized for his identification of critical signaling events in specific neurons in the brain that underlie the coordinated control of food intake, body weight, and carbohydrate metabolism.

“His work has contributed in major ways toward our understanding of how the nervous system regulates feeding, body weight, and carbohydrate and lipid homeostasis. All of these processes are exceptionally important for our understanding of the causes and for the development of treatments for obesity and type 2 diabetes,” said Dr. Philipp Scherer, Director of the Touchstone Center for Diabetes Research at UT Southwestern. Dr. Elmquist will officially accept the award when he delivers his prize lecture at the ADA’s 74th Scientific Sessions June 13-17 in San Francisco. UT Southwestern faculty members who have previously won this award include Dr. Scherer in 2005, and Dr. Roger Unger, Professor of Internal Medicine, in 1964.

“I am truly honored to be selected by the ADA for this award. I am humbled when I look at the list of names of previous awardees, including my colleagues at UT Southwestern who nominated me,” said Dr. Elmquist, referring to three of his UT Southwestern nominators, Dr. Scherer, Dr. Unger, and Dr. Daniel Foster, Professor of Internal Medicine. “I am eternally grateful to all my previous postdoctoral fellows and students, laboratory members, and my colleagues at UT Southwestern,” Dr. Elmquist said. Dr. Elmquist, also Chief of the Division of Hypothalamic Research and Professor of Internal Medicine, Pharmacology, and Psychiatry, has authored more than 150 peer-reviewed scientific articles on energy homeostasis and its regulation. His study of the pathways that regulate body weight and glucose homeostasis began as a postdoctoral fellow investigating central nervous system targets of the hormone leptin. His work mapping neurons responsive to leptin was among the first in the field. Dr. Scherer noted his colleague’s artful ability to use mouse genetics to unravel the central pathways that regulate coordinated energy homeostasis.  “His contributions to our understanding of central leptin signaling circuits and the consequences for carbohydrate metabolism were a quantum leap for the field of diabetes research,” Dr. Scherer said. The award is the second of recent honors for Dr. Elmquist. On April 4, he received the NPA Garnett-Powers & Associates Inc. 2014 Mentor Award from the National Postdoctoral Association. That award recognized mentoring, professional development, and career-launching lab opportunities provided to postdoctoral scholars. Dr. Elmquist earned his Ph.D. in veterinary anatomy at Iowa State University. He then completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard Medical School/Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, later accepting a faculty position there and rising to the level of Associate Professor of Medicine and Neurology. In 2006, he joined UT Southwestern as a faculty member. About UT Southwestern Medical Center

UT Southwestern, one of the premier academic medical centers in the nation, integrates pioneering biomedical research with exceptional clinical care and education. The institution’s faculty includes many distinguished members, including five who have been awarded Nobel Prizes since 1985. Numbering more than 2,700, the faculty is responsible for groundbreaking medical advances and is committed to translating science-driven research quickly to new clinical treatments. UT Southwestern physicians provide medical care in 40 specialties to nearly 91,000 hospitalized patients and oversee more than 2 million outpatient visits a year.