Columbia University Medical Center

CUMC Honors Dr. Michael Schwartz With Naomi Berrie Award For Outstanding Achievement In Diabetes Research

University of Washington Scientist Illustrated Neuronal Malfunction
That May Contribute to Obesity, Diabetes

Columbia Fellow Also Awarded Berrie Foundation Support

NEW YORK, January 4, 2007 – Columbia University Medical Center will present the 2006 Naomi Berrie Award for Outstanding Achievement in Diabetes Research to Michael W. Schwartz, M.D. A professor of medicine and head of clinical nutrition at the University of Washington in Seattle, Dr. Schwartz will be honored for his work aimed at explaining a neuronal impairment that can lead to obesity and diabetes.

Michael W. Schwartz, M.D.
“It’s a great honor to have my research recognized and supported with this award,” said Dr. Schwartz. “Columbia University and the Berrie Foundation are leading the field in diabetes research and therapy, and I’m pleased to have been recognized with this prestigious Berrie Award.”

Dr. Schwartz’s research has illustrated how dysfunctions of body weight and blood glucose are the result of an impairment of the function of neurons in the hypothalamus that regulate food intake, autonomic function and glucose metabolism. He has shown how insulin and leptin enter the brain and influence these neural circuits to control both food intake and glucose metabolism, and how an inherited or acquired impairment of these neurons can favor weight gain and insulin resistance and can hasten the onset of diabetes. This neuronal impairment also can increase the necessary insulin requirements when treating uncontrolled diabetes.

“Michael Schwartz’s research is shedding an important new light on the complex relationships between obesity, diabetes and insulin resistance,” said Dr. Rudolph Leibel, professor of pediatrics and medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and research director of the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center at Columbia University Medical Center. “His groundbreaking work is leading us closer to developing better strategies for treating these disorders.”

Dr. Schwartz is a member of the Association of American Physicians, the Western Association of Physicians and the American Society for Clinical Investigation. He is the 2007 recipient of the Rachmiel Levine – RH Williams Award for Outstanding Mentorship from the Metabolism Club of the Western Society for Clinical Investigation. He is also the recipient of the 1997 Royalty Research Fund Award of the University of Washington, the 1996 Young Faculty Award of the Western Society for Clinical Investigation, and the 1994 Young Investigator Award of the American Federation for Medical Research. His work has been featured in a number of prestigious peer-reviewed publications, including Science, Nature, and Nature Neuroscience.

Berrie Award Also Goes to Columbia Research Fellow
Each year, a second Naomi Berrie Award is given a faculty member at Columbia University Medical Center who uses the funds to support the work of a research fellow. This year the prize was awarded to Vidya Subramanian Ph.D, a postdoctoral fellow in the Laboratory of Dr. Anthony Ferrante, an Assistant Professor of Medicine and a member of the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center. Dr. Subramanian will work on the mechanisms by which obesity causes inflammation that is related, in turn, to diabetes and heart disease.

About the Berrie Award
Established by the Russell Berrie Foundation in 2000, the Naomi Berrie Award for Outstanding Achievement in Diabetes Research was designed to foster the highest quality in diabetes research by rewarding and encouraging outstanding achievement in the field, while simultaneously helping to promote important scientific collaborations across institutions and furthering the careers of especially promising young diabetes investigators. Each year, the recipient —a senior scientist who has made major contributions to diabetes research— is granted $100,000 to support a two-year research fellowship for a student or research fellow in his or her laboratory. A second $100,000 award supports a research fellow at Columbia.

Past recipients of this award include Graeme Bell, Ph.D. of the University of Chicago (2000), C. Ronald Kahn M.D. of the Joslin Diabetes Center and Harvard Medical School, (2001), Clifton Bogardus III, M.D. of the National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases (2002), George S. Eisenbarth, M.D., Ph.D. of the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center (2003), Douglas Melton of Harvard University (2004), and Michael Brownlee of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine (2005).

Columbia University Medical Center provides international leadership in pre-clinical and clinical research, in medical and health sciences education, and in patient care. The medical center trains future leaders and includes the dedicated work of many physicians, scientists, nurses, dentists, and public health professionals at the College of Physicians & Surgeons, the College of Dental Medicine, the School of Nursing, the Mailman School of Public Health, the biomedical departments of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and allied research centers and institutions.

Upon its official opening in October 1998, the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center at Columbia University Medical Center immediately established a new standard of care for the 1.6 million people with diabetes in the New York area—combining world-class diabetes research and education programs with unprecedented family-oriented patient care. Named for the mother of the late Russell Berrie, founder of RUSS™ Toys, the center is today recognized as the most comprehensive diabetes research and treatment center in the tri-state region, and has been designated as a national “Diabetes Center of Excellence”—one of only three in the state of New York. For more information, visit