Elmquist receives ADA’s 2014 Outstanding Scientific Achievement Award

Dr. Joel Elmquist, Director of the Center for Hypothalamic Research at UT Southwestern Medical Center, was awarded the American Diabetes Association’s Outstanding Scientific Achievement Award at the 74th Scientific Sessions last month.

The ADA recognized Dr. Elmquist 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, 47, officially accepted the award 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,” said Dr. Elmquist, who lives in Southlake with his wife and two sons.  “It’s been very humbling and also an exciting process. I gave a major lecture to a crowd of 6,000.”

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.

“Diabetes is very personal for me,” Dr. Elmquist said. “My father and grandparents had it.”

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.

“My greatest achievement professionally so far was being able to start the research center from scratch and watching a number of faculty and trainees have success here at UTSW.”

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.

UT Southwestern Medical Center contributed to this story.


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