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The 2009 Prize in
Life Science & Medicine

Douglas L Coleman,
Jeffrey M Friedman

for their work leading to the discovery of leptin, a hormone that regulates food intake and body weight

 

Learn More About the Laureate

Douglas L Coleman,<br/>Jeffrey M Friedman

The Contribution

Individuals vary in their ability to control body weight. Obesity is frequently associated with insulin resistance and diabetes, both of which have reached epidemic proportions in many countries. The discovery of Douglas L Coleman led the way to the work of Jeffrey M Friedman, who uncovered a hormone that increased our understanding of the biological pathway that regulates body weight.

 

The studies began with the work of Coleman at the Jackson Laboratories in Bar Harbor, Maine. Coleman investigated two strains of mice (ob/ob and db/db), both of which exhibit grossly morbid obesity and severe diabetes, caused by homozygosity for two different recessive mutations. Coleman suspected that the ob/ob mice lacked a circulating hormone whereas the db/db mice overproduced it. So he joined the blood vessels of these two different mice in a technique called parabiosis. When joined to a db/db mouse, the ob/ob mouse stopped eating and lost weight, while the db/db mouse remained obese. Coleman concluded that the ob/ob mice failed to produce a hormone that inhibits eating whereas the db/db mice overproduced the hormone, but lack the receptor necessary to receive and transmit the hormone signal. When the circulations of ob/ob and db/db mice were joined during the parabiosis, the anti-obesity hormone from the db/db mouse crossed into the ob/ob mouse and induced its weight loss. The db/db mouse showed no change in body weight because it lacked the receptor.

 

 

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An Essay on the Prize

Individuals vary in their ability to control body weight. Obesity is frequently associated with insulin resistance and diabetes, which often leads to heart, kidney and other diseases. Obesity is an important health problem and has reached epidemic proportions in many countries. The discovery by Douglas L Coleman led the way to the work of Jeffrey M Friedman, who uncovered a hormone that increased our understanding of the biological pathways that regulate body weight.

 

These studies began with the work of Douglas L Coleman at The Jackson Laboratories in Bar Harbor, Maine, USA. Coleman investigated two strains of mice (ob/ob and db/db), both of which exhibit grossly morbid obesity and severe diabetes caused by homozygosity, for two different recessive mutations. Coleman suspected that the ob/ob mice lacked a circulating hormone whereas the db/db mice overproduced it. So, he performed experiments in which the circulations of these 2 different strains of mice were joined together in a technique called parabiosis. When attached to a db/db mouse, the ob/ob mouse stopped eating and lost weight, while the db/db mouse remained obese. Coleman concluded that the ob/ob mice failed to produce a functional hormone that inhibits eating whereas the db/db mice overproduced the hormone, but lacked the receptor necessary to receive and transmit the hormone signal. When the circulations of ob/ob and db/db mice were joined during the parabiosis, the anti-obesity hormone from the db/db mouse crossed into the ob/ob mouse and induced its weight loss. The db/db mouse showed no change in body weight because it lacked the receptor for this hormone and therefore remained obese.

 

 

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About the Laureate

Douglas L Coleman

Douglas L Coleman (1931-2014)

Douglas L Coleman (1931-2014) born 1931 in Ontario, Canada, is Senior Staff Scientist, Emeritus of The Jackson Laboratory, Maine, USA. He obtained his BSc degree from McMaster University in 1954 and his PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin in 1958. He was elected a member of the US National Academy of Sciences in 1998. On 16 April 2014, Professor Coleman passed away in Lamoine, Maine, USA.

 

16 June 2009, Hong Kong

 

Professor Coleman passed away in Lamoine, Maine, USA, on 16 April 2014.

 

Autobiography

 

 

 

 

Jeffrey M Friedman

Jeffrey M Friedman

Jeffrey M Friedman, born 1954 in Orlando, Florida, is currently Marilyn M Simpson Professor of The Rockefeller University and Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He earned his medical degree from Albany Medical College of Union University in 1976 and his PhD from the Rockefeller University in 1986. He is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine.

 

16 June 2009, Hong Kong

 

Autobiography

 

 

 

 

Feature Story

 

The Shaw Prize Lecture in Life Science and Medicine 2009

"The Obese and Diabetes Mutant Mice: An Historical Perspective" by Professor Douglas L Coleman

The Shaw Prize Lecture in Life Science and Medicine 2009

"Leptin and the Biologic Basis of Obesity" by Professor Jeffrey M Friedman