ADA Researcher Receives Top Award in Medicine

Congratulations to Philipp E. Scherer, PhD of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center for winning the 2012 Peter and Edith O’Donnell Award – the most prestigious honor in the field of medicine awarded in the state of Texas. Presented by The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas (TAMEST), the award recognizes Dr. Scherer’s exceptional accomplishment and contribution to research in diabetes and obesity.

The award selection committee chose the scientist because of his continued excellence and innovative work particularly in adipocytes, or fat cells, and their communication with other organs in the body. In his more than 20 years of research experience, he has significantly furthered the understanding of fat’s impact on metabolism, inflammation, and the development and potential treatment of obesity-related diseases.

In 1994, Dr. Scherer discovered adiponectin, a hormone secreted by fat tissue that increases insulin sensitivity and helps to regulate immune responses. He found that adiponectin declines with weight gain, and thus can potentially be used to predict the risk of diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Dr. Scherer also created the "world's healthiest fat mice" resistant to type 2 diabetes in 2007, in which he determined that excess adiponectin could stimulate fat cells to grow in a healthy way.

Dr. Scherer is a professor of internal medicine and cell biology and Director of the Touchstone Diabetes Center a UT Southwestern, and he is considered a top leader and expert in diabetes. The American Diabetes Association has supported the researcher with several grants over the past two decades, including two currently-funded mentorship awards wherein he oversees his talented postdoctoral fellows, Qiong Wang, PhD and Yingfeng Deng, PhD.

“Beyond enabling me to direct an exciting research effort, these awards also help me to get extremely promising young scientists involved in diabetes research,” said Dr. Scherer, whose mentoring provides invaluable guidance while Dr. Wang studies the life cycle of fat cells and the effect of excessive calorie intake, and as Dr. Deng wraps up her project analyzing the stress response of insulin-producing beta cells.

“This is a reflection of all the outstanding collaborators that I have had the privilege to work with over the years, as well as a tribute to the exceptional metabolism group here at UT Southwestern. I am deeply honored to get this award.”

Dr. Scherer received ADA’s Outstanding Scientific Achievement Award in 2005 and has authored more than 200 publications.