Patrick Seale, PhD
Richard E. Weitzman Outstanding Early Career Investigator Award
Patrick Seale has established himself as a leading researcher in the fields of adipocyte biology, obesity and metabolism. His distinctive and innovative research is centered on the intersection of developmental biology and metabolism and addresses fundamental questions about: (1) the developmental origins of adipocytes; (2) transcriptional mechanisms that control fat cell fate; and (3) the role of adipocyte developmental programs in disease settings such as aging, obesity and type 2 diabetes.
In a relatively short period of time, Patrick Seale’s research has defined a developmental and transcriptional hierarchy in brown fat which has provided the basis for research studies being conducted around the world.
Dr. Seale identified PRDM16 as a major regulator of brown fat differentiation and made the paradigm-shifting discovery that brown fat and skeletal muscle have a common developmental origin. He has more recently uncovered a striking requirement for PRDM16 in maintaining brown fat fate during aging. He also showed that the genetic induction of brown fat-like cells in white adipose, which he termed “beige,” is sufficient to suppress obesity and insulin-resistance. This paved the way for an explosion of research focused on the biology and therapeutic potential of beige fat cells. He has also used classical developmental approaches to define the molecular identity of beige and brown fat precursor cells, opening up a new area of investigation in adipocyte biology.
Complementing his developmental and genetic approaches, Dr. Seale has used genome-wide and chromatin-based methods to discover a critical role for the transcription factor EBF2 in brown fat determination and to identify a novel mechanism by which PRDM16 activates brown fat gene transcription. In addition to publishing many prominent and highly cited research articles, Dr. Seale has written authoritative reviews in top journals. Thus, in a relatively short period of time, Patrick Seale’s research has defined a developmental and transcriptional hierarchy in brown fat which has provided the basis for research studies being conducted around the world. He is most deserving of the Richard E. Weitzman Outstanding Early Career Investigator Award.
Mitchell Lazar, MD, PhD, a professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, received the 2013 Gerald D. Aurbach Laureate Award.