Leopoldina awards Carus Medal to Matthias Tschöp

The German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina has awarded this year’s Carus Medal to the German physician Matthias Tschöp for his outstanding work in the field of diabetes and obesity research. Tschöp, a metabolism expert at the Helmholtz Zentrum München and the Technical University of Munich (TUM), accepted the honor during the Leopoldina Annual Assembly in Halle on 22 September 2017.

Prof. Dr. Mattthias Tschöp while receiving the award. Source: Leopoldina.

“I heartily congratulate Matthias Tschöp on winning this award,” said Professor Otmar D. Wiestler, President of the Helmholtz Association. “The award of the Carus Medal shows that he ranks alongside the outstanding scientists of our time. His fundamental discoveries possess great potential to significantly improve the treatment of diabetes and obesity. And that is precisely what systemic research performed by the Helmholtz Association sets out to do.”

Prof. Günther Wess, Scientific Director of the Helmholtz Zentrum München, also expressed his congratulations: “At the Helmholtz Zentrum München we conduct research into new approaches to the prevention, diagnosis and therapy of common diseases. Above all, we have immensely strengthened our research capacityin the field of diabetes mellitus, and we are now considered one of the most important research locations worldwide in this area. Along with Matthias Tschöp we are therefore delighted that all the hard work in recent years has now been acknowledged by the award of such a prestigious prize.”

Chimeric hormones promise fundamental progress   
Prof. Matthias Tschöp is regarded as one of the most outstanding scientists worldwide in the field of diabetes and obesity research. He has made a series of groundbreaking discoveries about metabolic diseases and developed various active substances as potential drug candidates for the treatment of diabetes and obesity, which have already undergone clinical trials. He recognized that the ghrelin peptide acts like a “hunger hormone” by informing certain areas of the brain about the availability of nutrients.

On the basis of these findings, Matthias Tschöp discovered a number of further mechanisms involved in communications between the stomach and the brain, in the regulation of food intake, energy and glucose metabolism as well as in the control of body weight and body fat mass. He consequently succeeded in developing novel chimeric hormones, which amongst other things specifically target neuronal networks in the hypothalamus. With the aid of these so-called polyagonists, obesity, hypercholesterolemia and insulin intolerance have been totally eliminated in preclinical models. Numerous clinical studies hold promise for fundamental progress in the treatment of diabetes and obesity.

Further Information

The Carus Medal was initiated in honor of Carl Gustav Carus (1789-1869), the 13th President of the Leopoldina, the German Academy of Sciences, and first awarded in 1896 to mark the 50th anniversary of his professorship. The medal is awarded in recognition of significant scientific discoveries or research achievements by junior scientists in a field represented by the Leopoldina. Previous medal winners have included Jacques Monod (1965), who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in the same year; Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard (1989), who received the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology in 1995; and Stefan Hell (2013), the Nobel laureate in Chemistry in the following year. Since 1961, the Carus Medal has been complemented by the Carus Award, worth €5,000, which is donated by the city of Schweinfurt, where the Leopoldina was founded. The neuroscientist Prof. Elisabeth Binder of the Max Planck Institute for Psychiatry in Munich received the award jointly with Prof. Matthias Tschöp.

Matthias Tschöp studied Human Medicine at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, where he obtained his doctorate in 1998. In 2003, after research stays in the USA and Germany, he worked as Associate Professor, and from 2009 as Professor, Endowed Chair and Research Director at the University of Cincinnati. In 2012, he became the first physician to receive an Alexander von Humboldt Professorship, which he took up at the Technical University of Munich. Prof. Tschöp is concurrently Scientific Director of the Helmholtz Diabetes Center and the Helmholtz Pioneer Campus, and also holds an Adjunct Professorship at Yale University. In recognition of his achievements he has received numerous other awards, including an ERC Advanced Grant, the Erwin Schrödinger Prize, the Endocrine Society’s Innovation Award and “Outstanding Scientific Achievement” Awards from the American Diabetes Association and the Obesity Society.

As German Research Center for Environmental Health, Helmholtz Zentrum München pursues the goal of developing personalized medical approaches for the prevention and therapy of major common diseases such as diabetes mellitus and lung diseases. To achieve this, it investigates the interaction of genetics, environmental factors and lifestyle. The Helmholtz Zentrum München has about 2,300 staff members and is headquartered in Neuherberg in the north of Munich. Helmholtz Zentrum München is a member of the Helmholtz Association, a community of 18 scientific-technical and medical-biological research centers with a total of about 37,000 staff members.

Technical University of Munich (TUM) is one of Europe’s leading research universities, with more than 500 professors, around 10,000 academic and non-academic staff, and 40,000 students. Its focus areas are the engineering sciences, natural sciences, life sciences and medicine, com-bined with economic and social sciences. TUM acts as an entrepreneurial university that promotes talents and creates value for society. In that it profits from having strong partners in science and industry. It is represented worldwide with a campus in Singapore as well as offices in Beijing, Brussels, Cairo, Mumbai, San Francisco, and São Paulo. Nobel Prize winners and inventors such as Rudolf Diesel, Carl von Linde, and Rudolf Mößbauer have done research at TUM. In 2006 and 2012 it won recognition as a German "Excellence University." In international rankings, TUM regularly places among the best universities in Germany.