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The BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award goes to Coleman and Friedman, discoverers of the appetite hormone
Date:1/29/2013

MADRID, Jan. 29, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the Biomedicine category has been granted in this fifth edition to chemist Douglas Coleman and physician Jeffrey Friedman for "revealing the existence of the genes involved in the regulation of appetite and body weight, a discovery crucial to our understanding of human pathologies such as obesity," in the words of the prize jury.

Their work showed conclusively that leptin is a hormone made by fat which acts on the hypothalamus in the brain, in order to "maintain control of food intake, energy expenditure and the amount of fat that accumulates," the citation continues. "The absence of leptin or its receptor leads to obesity," a mechanism initially identified in mice but that also "holds true for humans, and is therefore of obvious critical importance."

Coleman and Friedman's findings, in the view of the jury, have not only opened up a new era of research into the biological roots of obesity, but have also brought about a paradigm shift in social attitudes by showing that obesity is not due to "inappropriate behavior, but is the consequence of imbalance in a hormone-driven process," the citation concludes.

Douglas Coleman (1931, Ontario, Canada) holds dual Canadian-American nationality and is Senior Staff Scientist Emeritus at The Jackson Laboratory in Maine (United States). Jeffrey Friedman (1954, Orlando, United States) is a professor at The Rockefeller University in New York. Their names were put forward for the award by Paul Greengard , winner of the 2000 Nobel Prize in Medicine and a professor at The Rockefeller U
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