June 5, 2009

Cone’s research on diabetes and obesity lauded

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Roger Cone, Ph.D.

Cone’s research on diabetes and obesity lauded

Roger Cone, Ph.D., is the 2009 recipient of the Donald F. Steiner Award for Outstanding Achievement in Diabetes Research, an international award established by the University of Chicago to honor an investigator conducting research in the field of diabetes.

Cone, professor and chair of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, received the award at the 4th Annual Chicago Diabetes Day on May 16, where he gave a lecture titled “The basic science of diabetes…and why obesity prevention is key to reversing the diabetes epidemic.”

Cone’s research focuses on understanding how the central nervous system regulates energy stores – both the normal processes and the pathophysiological mechanisms that lead to obesity, metabolic syndrome, disease wasting, anorexia nervosa and other eating disorders.

A central theme of Cone’s research is the role of the central melanocortin system in these processes. His work has shown that the melanocortin system is responsible for integrating information about energy intake and expenditure. Based on his findings, a defective melanocortin system has been identified as the most common cause of severe early-onset obesity in humans.

Cone has also directs the Vanderbilt Comprehensive Obesity Research Program, which brings together basic scientists, clinicians and public health professionals to address obesity-related issues from treatment and prevention to public policy and community education.

The award is named for Donald F. Steiner, M.D., the A.N. Pritzker Distinguished Service Professor at The University of Chicago, a pioneering diabetes investigator and discoverer of proinsulin. This discovery provided new insight into the production of insulin as well as other hormones and neuropeptides and also established a route for the production of human insulin for treating patients with diabetes.