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OHSU Obesity Researcher Receives Prestigious Award In Greece

10/27/06   Portland, Ore.

OHSU Researcher Roger Cone, Ph.D., has been named this year's recipient of the prestigious Ipsen Prize awarded annually in four categories, longevity, neuropsychology, neuronal plasticity, and endocrine signaling, by the Foundation IPSEN. The award recognizes Cone's previous research achievements in endocrine signaling, many of which explain the brain's role in regulating body weight. The award was presented during a meeting of the European NeuroEndocrine Association in Athens, Greece this past weekend.

Cone, who serves as director of OHSU's new Center for the Study of Weight Regulation and Associated Disorders, has focused for years on the melanocortin system, a family of hormones in the body that control various functions including pigmentation and energy/weight regulation. In the past decade, Cone's lab discovered the important role of the brain melanocortin system in the adipostat, a thermostat-like mechanism of the brain that controls weight and energy consumption much like a thermostat controls the temperature in a home.

"The easiest way to understand how the adipostat works is observe a person who goes on a diet," explains Cone. "After initially losing weight, most people regain those lost pounds in a matter of months or years. This is because the adpostat remembers the person's pre-diet weight and actually works to get the body back to that original weight. This also explains why losing weight can be so difficult. When you reduce your food intake, the adpostat tries to counteract by becoming more efficient in burning calories. The adipostat's roots are likely millions of years old. It is likely an important body mechanism that allows animals to conserve energy at times when food is scarce."

In addition to Cone's research on the adipostat, his lab has provided many additional findings that explain the role of the melanocortin system in the body.

"It is a tremendous honor to receive this award and to be associated with previous winners," said Cone.

One previous award winner is Pierre Chambon (2004), who is also the winner of a Lasker Award, frequently referred to as "America's Nobel" Other previous winners such as Robert Lefkowitz (2003), and Tomas Hokfelt (2005), and Wiley Vale (2002) are considered to be worldwide leaders in their respective scientific fields.

The OHSU Center for the Study of Weight Regulation and Associated Disorders was founded by Cone and his colleagues following a series of significant weight -related research findings in OHSU labs by Cone and other scientists. The center is dedicated to understanding, preventing and treating obesity and related disorders.

Created in 1983 under the patronage of La Fondation de France, La Fondation Ipsen's mission is to contribute to the development and dissemination of scientific knowledge.


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