DZD Researcher Tim Schulz Awarded Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize for Young Researchers

The 2018 Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize for Young Researchers will be awarded today to Professor Tim Schulz in recognition of his biomedical research on the function of brown and white adipocytes (fat cells). At the German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbrücke (DIfE), a partner of the DZD, Schulz is investigating how the different types of fat cells develop and what physiological or pathological effects they have. The award, endowed with 60,000 euros, will be presented in the Paulskirche in Frankfurt.

"With his excellent research work, Tim Schulz has made a significant contribution to understanding the development and effect of white and brown adipocytes," said Professor Martin Hrabě de Angelis, board member of the German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD). “We are very pleased  to have such an excellent researcher as head of the Department of Adipocyte Development and Nutrition,”  said DZD speaker Professor Annette Schürmann of the German Institute of Human Nutrition. "This also shows that the DZD offers talented young researchers an outstanding environment for their work," Hrabě de Angelis added.

The fact that adults have brown adipose tissue as well as white has only been known for some years. The two cell types fulfill different physiological tasks: brown adipocytes generate heat and thus protect the body against cooling. By contrast, white adipocytes are mainly used for energy storage and thermal insulation. However, with increasing age, the body's ability to produce useful brown adipocytes decreases. At the same time, especially with a faulty diet, more white adipocytes are also stored in organs and bones. This probably contributes to the development of diseases such as diabetes, fatty liver or poor bone healing. The biochemist Tim Schulz is investigating the physiological or pathological effects of both adipocyte types and whether these effects can be controlled. He is also investigating how brown and white adipocytes are produced from stem cells. In addition, Schulz and his team are looking for ways to increase the number of brown adipocytes, especially in the aged organism, or to counteract their loss.

Schulz and his team were able to show that the bone stem cells produce white adipocytes instead of bone tissue with increasing age and high-fat diets. The adipocytes release the enzyme dipeptidyl peptidase 4 (DPP4), which affects not only bone healing but also blood formation in the bone marrow.1 This could be one reason for poor bone healing in old age. DPP4 is already known from diabetes research and can be inhibited by drugs (gliptins) that have been tried and tested for years. These drugs could potentially improve bone health in elderly patients.

Tim Schulz's outstanding research work also convinced the Paul Ehrlich Foundation, which each year  awards the Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize for Young Researchers to a young scientist working in Germany. "With the topic of obesity, the work of Tim J. Schulz takes up a highly relevant field of research," the Foundation Board emphasized in its statement. "Schulz not only investigates the harmful effects of white adipocytes, but also examines whether obesity and associated diseases can be prevented by the targeted production of more brown adipocytes and what role nutrition plays in this context.”  Schulz is the 13th winner of the Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize.

1  Ambrosi, T.H.; Scialdone, A.; Graja, A.; Gohlke, S.; Jank, A.-M.; Bocian, C.; Woelk, L.; Fan, H.; Logan, W.D.; Schürmann, A.; Saraiva, L.R.; Schulz, T.J.: Adipocyte accumulation in the bone marrow during obesity and aging impairs stem cell-based hematopoietic and bone regeneration. Cell Stem Cell (2017)


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Brief Biography of Tim Julius Schulz
Tim J. Schulz, born in Northeim in 1979,  studied biochemistry at the University of Potsdam. In 2007 he received his doctorate under Professor Michael Ristow at the University of Jena and  was awarded the Dissertation Prize of the Faculty of Biology and Pharmacology for his thesis.  After receiving his doctorate, Schulz spent five years at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, which is part of Harvard Medical School. There he worked with Professor Yu-Hua Tseng in the Department of Integrative Physiology and Metabolism. From 2012 to 2016, Schulz headed the Emmy Noether Young Investigator Research Group "Adipocyte Development" funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) at the German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbrücke (DIfE). In 2016, Schulz became head of the Department of Adipocyte Development and Nutrition at DIfE, a partner of the German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD). He was concurrently appointed W2 Professor at the University of Potsdam. In 2013 he was awarded a €1.5 million starting grant of the European Research Council (ERC).

The Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize for Young Researchers
The Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize for Young Researchers, conferred for the first time in 2006, is awarded each year to a young researcher working in Germany for his or her outstanding achievements in the field of biomedical research. The prize money of 60,000 euros must be used for research purposes. University faculty members and leading scientists at German research institutions are eligible to submit nominations. The  prizewinner is selected by the Foundation Council upon a proposal by the eight-person selection committee.

The Paul Ehrlich Foundation
The Paul Ehrlich Foundation is a legally dependent foundation which is managed in a fiduciary capacity by the Association of Friends and Sponsors of the Goethe University, Frankfurt. The Honorary Chairman of the Foundation, which was established by Hedwig Ehrlich in 1929, is Professor Dr. Peter Strohschneider, president of the German Research Foundation, who also appoints the elected members of the Scientific Council and the Board of Trustees. The Chairman of the Scientific Council is Professor Thomas Boehm, Managing Director at the Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics in Freiburg, the Chair of the Board of Trustees is Professor Dr. Jochen Maas, Head of Research and Development and Member of the Management Board, Sanofi-Aventis Deutschland GmbH. Professor Wilhelm Bender, in his function as Chair of the Association of Friends and Sponsors of the Goethe University, is Member of the Scientific Council. The President of the Goethe University is at the same time a member of the Board of Trustees.