Professor Alexander Bartelt investigates the role of healthy fat cells in metabolism and what happens when these cells become aggressive. His research work has now won him a research award from the German Obesity Society (DAG).
Alexander Bartelt is Professor of Cardiovascular Metabolism at LMU’s Institute for Cardiovascular Prevention. He studies how fat cells grow, shrink and stay healthy in the process. During a research visit to the USA, he made an interesting discovery: A previously unknown mechanism ensures that fat cells continuously regenerate from within, thereby preventing inflammation and dysfunction. Metabolism expert Bartelt expects this protective mechanism to open up new lines of therapeutic research around what is known as metabolic syndrome, given that the conflation of risk factors such as obesity, hypertension, high blood glucose and high blood lipid levels resulting from this ‘disease of the affluent’ increase the risk of cardiovascular conditions.
“Metabolic research is a very timely and very relevant topic, as more and more people in our society are today overweight”, Bartelt says. “And during the sedentary months of the pandemic, the Germans put on even more weight.” His research focuses on the gene switch Nfe2I1: “Nfe2I1 controls the breakdown of protein waste. Apparently, this is a key factor that helps recycle metabolic waste products and thus prevent cells – be they muscle cells, fat cells or heart cells – from becoming stressed.”
Since 2018, Bartelt has led a junior research group that researches stress management in the heart and is funded by the Deutsches Zentrum für Herz-Kreislauf-Forschung (German Center for Cardiovascular Diseases, DZHK). The biochemist and molecular biologist searches for key mechanisms of human metabolism to find better approaches to treating conditions such as obesity, diabetes and arteriosclerosis – especially as metabolic issues are often at the root of cardiovascular diseases.
Every year, the German Obesity Society (DAG) presents awards in honor of outstanding work in the field of obesity research conducted by young scientists in German-speaking Europe. The assessment criteria include the candidates’ past academic work in obesity research and their individual scientific trajectories. The prize is worth 2,500 euros. Alexander Bartelt‘s work is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), the DZHK and the European Research Council (ERC). His research has won him numerous national and international awards. In 2020, he published a popular science book entitled “Der Fettversteher” (“The Fat Whisperer”), which made it onto the Spiegel bestseller list.