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Helmholtz Munich | Matthias Kern
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Prof. Dr. med. Matthias Blüher

Director of the Helmholtz Institute for Metabolic, Obesity and Vascular Research and Head of Research Group Clinical Obesity Research

"I am fascinated by the idea that a better understanding of obesity mechanisms may improve treatments for people living with obesity. I am interested in the role of adipose tissue as the largest endocrine organ of the body."

Prof. Dr. med. Matthias Blüher

Director of the Helmholtz Institute for Metabolic, Obesity and Vascular Research and Head of Research Group Clinical Obesity Research

"I am fascinated by the idea that a better understanding of obesity mechanisms may improve treatments for people living with obesity. I am interested in the role of adipose tissue as the largest endocrine organ of the body."

Academic Career

Matthias Blüher is an endocrinologist and diabetologist and is one of the world leading clinical scientists in the field of obesity research. Inspired by individual experiences from people living with obesity, he is interested to understand the complex mechanisms causing unhealthy weight gain, disease progression and frequent relapses after successful weight loss. With his research group, he wants to find answers to questions like:

  • Why do many people eat more than needed?
  • How does the excess energy know where to deposit itself?
  • Which signals from adipose tissue and other organs tell the brain when and what to eat – and when to stop?

Matthias is particularly interested in molecular mechanisms including genetic factors that cause adipose tissue dysfunction and resulting type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular and other diseases. By working at HI-MAG both clinically and in basic research, his approach in finding answers to these questions is mainly translational. Matthias initiated and developed the worldwide largest adipose tissue bank as a resource to define adipose tissue mechanisms underlying “obesity diseases”.

The ultimate vision of Matthias' research is to improve the quality of live for people living with obesity and its comorbid diseases through more effective and safe treatments.

Matthias studied medicine at the University of Leipzig and took his clinical undergraduate training in Germany, Switzerland, the UK, Canada, Australia and the United States. After graduating in 1996, he worked on his MD thesis (defended in 1998) at the Institute of Clinical Chemistry, Pathobiochemistry and Laboratory Medicine. From 1996-2000, Matthias started his training in internal medicine at the Department of Endocrinology at the University Hospital Leipzig. He interrupted his postgraduate training to follow his passion for basic research in insulin resistance mechanisms and joined the research lab of C. Ronald Kahn at the Joslin Diabetes Center, Harvard Medical School in Boston, USA. During his postdoctoral fellowship from 2000 to 2003 in Boston, Matthias became excited about the importance of adipose tissue and obesity in the pathophysiology of cardio-metabolic diseases. After coming back to Leipzig, Matthias started a position as head of the junior research group Endocrinology at the Interdisciplinary Center for Clinical Research (IKFZ) Leipzig and continued his clinical training in Endocrinology and Diabetology.

In 2004, he was promoted to a C3 professorship for Molecular Endocrinology at the University of Cologne to join the research group of Prof. Jens C. Brüning. After this fruitful period, Matthias returned to Leipzig in 2005 and became W2 Professor for Molecular Pathogenesis of Metabolic Diseases in the clinical research group of Prof. Michael Stumvoll.

Together with him and other colleagues, Matthias developed the clinical obesity research and treatment center to an internationally visible hub in this field. These activities led to the establishment of the DFG funded Clinical Research Center (SFB 1052) “Obesity mechanisms” in 2013 and the foundation of HI-MAG in 2018. In December 2019, Matthias became Director of the Helmholtz Institute for Metabolic, Obesity and Vascular Research and W3 Professor for Clinical Obesity Research at the University of Leipzig.

 

Research Areas and Expertise

Treatment of people living with obesity, Clinical Obesity Research, Clinical trials, Adipose tissue biology, Mechanisms of fat distribution, Adipokines, Energy Metabolism, Insulin resistance, Behavioral weight loss interventions, Pharmacotherapies of obesity

Important Career Steps

since 2019

Director of the Helmholtz Institute for Metabolic, Obesity and Vascular Research (HI-MAG) of the Helmholtz Zentrum München at the University of Leipzig and Professor (W3) for Clinical Obesity Research, Faculty of Medicine, Leipzig University

2005–2019

Full Professor (W2) of Molecular Endocrinology, Faculty of Medicine, Leipzig University

2004–2005

Professor (C3) of Molecular Endocrinology, University of Cologne

2000–2003

Postdoctoral Fellowship at Joslin Diabetes Centre (C. R. Kahn), Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA

Honors and Awards

  • 2015 - Minkowski Award, European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD)

  • 2011 - Hagedorn-Project, German Diabetes Association (DDG)

  • 2008 - Ferdinand-Bertram-Prize, German Diabetes Association

  • 2003 - Obesity Research Award, German Society for the Study of Obesity (DAG)

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Selected Publications

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