Jens Claus Brüning receives the Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker Prize

November 06, 2018
The Stifterverband and the National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina have awarded the Cologne-based endocrinologist and molecular biologist Prof. Dr. Jens Claus Brüning the Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker Prize. The scientist is honoured for his research on the basics of two widespread diseases: obesity and diabetes.

The Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker Prize, endowed with 50,000 euros, will be awarded to Jens Claus Brüning on Tuesday, 11 December 2018 in Halle (Saale). The award ceremony will take place as part of the traditional Christmas lecture of the Leopoldina, which the prize winner will give on the subject of "Control of energy balance and metabolism by the brain".

"The Carl-Friedrich-von-Weizsäcker-Preis is an award for science-based policy advice and thus honours scientists who use their research to develop solutions for dealing with pressing problems and actively communicate these to politicians and the public. Jens Claus Brüning's contributions to basic neuroendocrinological research could improve the quality of life and expectations of very many people who suffer from obesity or type 2 diabetes - around 30 percent of the western world's population is affected," says Prof. Dr. Andreas Barner, President of the Stifterverband.

It has long been known in medicine that metabolic disorders during pregnancy increase the risk of unborn children developing diabetes or obesity. Jens Claus Brüning succeeded in explaining these connections. For the first time, he was able to show in mouse models that a high-fat diet of mothers during breastfeeding - which corresponds in developmental terms to the last third of pregnancy in humans - inhibits the development of certain nerve cells (POMC neurones) in the brain of the offspring resulting in a disturbed metabolism. This finding enables progress in the diagnosis and therapy of metabolic disorders in pregnant women. Brüning also identified nerve cells in an area of the diencephalon, the hypothalamus, which are involved in controlling food intake and sugar metabolism. He investigated chemical reactions in body cells that lead to a reduced effect of the blood sugar-lowering hormone insulin in overweight patients and thus to insulin resistance, i.e. diabetes.

Prof. Dr. Jens Claus Brüning

Since February 2012, Jens Brüning acts as director of the Max Planck Institute for Metabolism Research in Cologne, Germany.

He received his doctorate from the University of Cologne in 1993. Here he was awarded the Venia Legendi teaching license for internal medicine / endocrinology (2002). As a researcher, he is interested in the regulation of energy and glucose metabolism in connection with age-related (e.g. type 2 diabetes) and neurodegenerative diseases (e.g. Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease).

In 2018, Brüning was appointed a member of the Leopoldina and he has already received numerous international awards for his progress in metabolic regulation. In 2009 he was awarded the "Ernst Jung Prize for Medicine". In 2008, he received the "Minkowski Prize" of the European Diabetes Society, which was preceded by the "Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize" of the German Research Foundation in 2007. The "Wilhelm Vaillant Prize" and the "Ferdinand Bertram Prize" of the German Diabetes Society were presented to him in 2005. Already in 2001, he received the "Ernst and Berta Scharrer Prize" of the German Society of Endocrinology.

By Nina Kollas and Annegret Burkert

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