Neuherberg, 31.05.2019

Matthias Tschöp receives the highest honor from the German Diabetes Association

The 2019 Paul Langerhans Medal goes to Prof. Dr. med. Dr. h.c. Matthias Tschöp. The German Diabetes Association (DDG) is thereby paying tribute to Tschöp’s contributions to research in the field of diabetes and to the development of new drug candidates for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. The Langerhans Medal is the highest award conferred by the German Diabetes Association. Named after the physician Paul Langerhans, the medal has been awarded to leading international researchers in diabetology for over 40 years.

Professor Matthias Tschöp, diabetes researcher and CEO of Helmholtz Zentrum München, received the award at the German Diabetes Congress in Berlin, which attracted 7,000 participants. Congress President Prof. Dr. Michael Roden presented the medal for “excellence in diabetes research and a major breakthrough in the development of individualized type 2 diabetes therapy.”

Matthias Tschöp’s research focuses on messenger substances that control blood sugar levels, metabolism and appetite via communication channels between the gastrointestinal system and the brain. He has discovered key signaling pathways such as the “hunger hormone” ghrelin, which stimulates appetite. Together with chemist Richard DiMarchi, Tschöp has developed new drug candidates for the treatment of type 2 diabetes and obesity. These substances, known as polyagonists, simultaneously mimic the activity of multiple hormones. A number of these polyagonists have emerged as highly promising candidates for the treatment of obesity and type 2 diabetes and are currently being tested in phase 2 and phase 3 clinical trials. The recipient of the award has the honor of presenting the prestigious Paul Langerhans lecture at the German Diabetes Congress. In his lecture, Tschöp provided an overview of the mechanisms and efficacy of the polyagonists that he and his team have discovered.

“The Paul Langerhans Medal is a very special honor for me, not least of all because many of the previous recipients were and still are my role models in the fight against diabetes. Only through joint efforts can we rise to the daunting challenge posed by the rapidly spreading diabetes epidemic. New drug candidates such as the polyagonists we’ve discovered offer hope that we have achieved a major breakthrough. But time is running out: it has taken more than 13 years of hard work to progress from our initial observations to validation in late stage clinical trials”, the physician and researcher observes.

Matthias Tschöp has been active as scientific director at Helmholtz Zentrum München since August 2018. In 2012, after working many years in the USA, he became the first physician to be granted an Alexander von Humboldt professorship at the TUM and Helmholtz Zentrum München, where he was instrumental in setting up the Helmholtz Diabetes Center and the Helmholtz Pioneer Campus. He has received numerous honors for his scientific accomplishments, including the Outstanding Scientific Achievement Awards of the American Diabetes Association and the Obesity Society, the Paul Martini Prize, the Erwin Schrödinger Prize, the European Medal of the Society for Endocrinology, an ERC Advanced Grant, the Innovation Award of the Endocrine Society, the Hansen Family Award, the Rolf Sammet Professorship and an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Leipzig. Matthias Tschöp is a member of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, which awarded him the Carus Medal in 2017.

As German Research Center for Environmental Health, Helmholtz Zentrum München pursues the goal of developing personalized medical approaches for the prevention and therapy of major common diseases such as diabetes mellitus, allergies and lung diseases. To achieve this, it investigates the interaction of genetics, environmental factors and lifestyle. The Helmholtz Zentrum München has about 2,300 staff members and is headquartered in Neuherberg in the north of Munich. Helmholtz Zentrum München is a member of the Helmholtz Association, a community of 19 scientific-technical and medical-biological research centers with a total of about 37,000 staff members. 

With over 9000 members, the German Diabetes Association (DDG) ranks as one of the largest medical-scientific professional associations in Germany. There are more than six million diabetics in Germany, with nearly 300,000 new cases registered every year. The DDG supports science and research in the field of diabetology, is committed to education and training, certifies treatment centers and issues  guidelines. Its aim is to achieve better prevention and treatment options for the widespread disease of diabetes. To this end, the DDG also engages in health-policy activities. The Diabetes Congress organized by the DDG was held in Berlin from May 29 to 31, 2019.

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