Outstanding Clinical Investigator Award
Robert H. Eckel, MD
University of Colorado
Robert H. Eckel, MD, is an amazing physician-scientist who has performed outstanding clinical and translational research for over 30 years. Bob is one of the very few endocrinologists who has been president of the American Heart Association, which reflects not only his exemplary leadership skills but also his clinical and research expertise in lipid homeostasis, nutrition, obesity, and cardiovascular risk prevention.
Bob was among the first clinical investigators to use the euglycemic clamp to address lipid and lipoprotein metabolism in humans. He demonstrated that lipoprotein lipase (LPL) activity (which is critical for the uptake of lipoprotein derived fatty acids into tissues) was regulated by insulin in humans. He has been one of the world leaders in understanding LPL biology and pathophysiology. In a series of studies, his research group elegantly showed that LPL plays a critical role in response to weight loss in the adipose tissue and skeletal muscle which can lead to weight regain. Bob’s research group next designed genetically modified mice to determine the mechanisms by which alterations in LPL in specific tissues affects insulin action and energy balance. More recently, his group made mice with neuron-specific deletion of LPL and demonstrated that this results in major induction of the orexigenic neuropeptide, AgRP, in the hypothalamus and in obesity. This has opened the door to understanding how lipid sensing in the central nervous system participates in regulating energy balance and body weight.
On a personal note, I am in academic endocrinology because of Bob Eckel. During my residency, I was exposed to Bob’s keen intellect, compassion for patients and infectious enthusiasm for academic endocrinology. He has been a tremendous role model for so many in our field. I am thrilled that Robert H. Eckel is being recognized as the Outstanding Clinical Investigator Laureate.