DAG Medal for the Former Director of the German Institute of Human Nutrition

On Friday, November 21, 2014, Prof. Dr. Dr. Hans-Georg Joost will be awarded the DAG Medal at the 30th Annual Meeting of the German Society for the Study of Obesity (DAG). The physician and pharmacologist will receive the medal for his outstanding life achievement as a scientist. From 2002 until his retirement in May 2014, Joost headed the German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbruecke (DIfE) as scientific director and was speaker for the DIfE in the DZD. His successor as DIfE director is the nutritional toxicologist and physician Prof. Dr. Tilman Grune.

The DAG Medal replaces the therapy prize awarded by the DAG since 1998 to DAG members for their long years of contributions to research. With this medal, the DAG honors scientists who have made outstanding achievements in obesity research.
“I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to Mr. Joost for this award, which honors his lifelong achievement in science. Under his leadership the DIfE has developed beyond the borders of nutrition research into a prestigious institute of health research,” said Tilman Grune, new scientific director of the DIfE. He went on to say, “Also in the future, the Institute will continue to make an important contribution to health research in the Federal Republic of Germany, not least through its participation in large collaborative projects such as the National Cohort and the German Center for Diabetes Research.”

Research focus
During his twelve-year tenure at the DifE, Joost’s research activities focused on the causes of the metabolic syndrome. This syndrome is characterized by obesity, high blood pressure and by an insensitivity of the body cells to the hormone insulin and by disturbed lipid metabolism.
Among its most significant sequelae is type 2 diabetes, commonly known as old-age diabetes. Under Joost’s leadership, the DIfE scientists identified different genes using the mouse model system and functionally characterized those genes that play a role in obesity and diabetes development. The research results provide deep insight into the pathogenic mechanisms of the two diseases, thus creating a scientific basis to develop new therapeutic and preventive approaches. In addition, upon Joost’s initiative and in collaboration with him, scientists from the DifE Departments of Epidemiology and Molecular Epidemiology developed a test (DIfE GERMAN DIABETES RISK TEST®) with which every adult can determine his/her personal diabetes risk.
The results of Joost's research are documented in over 230 scientific publications.

Prof. Joost was born in Duderstadt/Eichsfeld in 1948. He studied chemistry and medicine at the University of Göttingen and received a PhD in organic chemistry in 1972 (PhD adviser: Prof. Hans Brockmann) with a dissertation on antibiotically active actinomycete dyes and a PhD in medicine in 1979 (PhD adviser: Prof. Arnold Hasselblatt) with a dissertation on blood-glucose-lowering sulfonylureas.
After his time as assistant at the Pharmacological Institute in Göttingen he completed his Habilitation thesis in 1981 in the areas of pharmacology and toxicology. His time as lecturer at the University of Göttingen was interrupted by a research stay in the U.S. at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. In 1991 he accepted the appointment as C4 Professor in Pharmacology and Toxicology at the Faculty of Medicine at RWTH Aachen and headed the Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology there until 2001. In 2002 Prof. Joost was appointed Scientific Director of the German Institute of Human Nutrition in Potsdam-Rehbrücke and concurrently Professor of Pharmacology at the University of Potsdam.
In June 2012 Joost was elected speaker of the German Research Foundation review board “Medicine”, Section 4 (the genetic, metabolic and regulatory basis of diseases and public health) – a position he is continuing after his retirement from the DIfE. Furthermore, he was recently named ombudsman of the Leibniz Association. He will also continue serving in this position.