Combating Diabetes Complications: Stephan Herzig Awarded with the Camillo Golgi Prize from the EASD
Prof. Stephan Herzig has been awarded the 38th Camillo Golgi Prize for his outstanding contributions to the histopathology, pathogenesis, prevention, and treatment of the complications of diabetes. The prize is delivered by the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) and named after Camillo Golgi, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1906 for his studies on the nervous system and kidney physiology.
Prof. Stephan Herzig is the Department Head of the Helmholtz Diabetes Center and Director of the Institute for Diabetes and Cancer at Helmholtz Munich. His work is focused on the pathogenesis, prevention and treatment of diabetes complications such as non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), (liver) fibrosis and cancer for the past two decades. His remarkable journey began with his landmark discovery in 2001, where Stephan Herzig revealed the cooperative control of gluconeogenesis by glucagon and glucocorticoid hormones through the CREB-PGC1 axis, elucidating the underlying mechanism of fasting hyperglycemia in diabetes. Since then, he made several impactful contributions to the field of diabetes research by identifying the molecular and endocrine bases in disease pathophysiology.
Stephan Herzig is a passionate molecular pharmacologist who has been awarded frequently nationally and internationally. Just last year, he received the prestigious Werner Creutzfeldt Prize from the German Diabetes Association for his outstanding achievements in understanding the connection between diabetes and cancer, highlighting that his findings have not only impacted the field of diabetes research but also influenced adjacent areas, such as cancer metabolism, as a long-term complication in diabetes. Indeed, Stephan Herzig’s findings promoted a paradigm change in the sense that diabetes complications do not arise in an isolated organ context but result from inter- and intra-organ communication routes. Stephan Herzig’s work significantly contributed to this concept through his discovery and functional characterization of critical endocrine circuits and communication routes between peripheral metabolic organs in diabetes, highlighted by the identification of novel hepatokines and checkpoints in hepatic fibrosis, NASH progression and cancer cachexia.
Notably, key components of his work have been adopted for clinical use already, exemplified by clinical studies on the feasibility of fasting regimens to control metabolic dysfunction in diabetes patients with chronic kidney disease. He is dedicated to uncovering novel mechanisms, molecules, and functionalities to explore the regulatory and transcriptional networks in diabetes and its complications. As part of his vision of precise and personalized therapies, these new avenues will provide the conceptual framework for his future research aim to develop both peptide as well as RNA therapeutics against hepatic and systemic complications in diabetes, thereby moving forward on his journey to a world without type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes as a condition with which patients can have an enjoyable life.