BIDMC’s Christos Mantzoros, MD, DSc, Recognized for Groundbreaking Obesity Research

Jacqueline Mitchell, 617-667-7306

MARCH 16, 2018

BOSTON – Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center’s Christos Mantzoros, MD, DSc, the first scientist to document the role of the hormone leptin in regulating the body’s response to hunger in humans, is the recipient of the Endocrine Society’s Outstanding Clinical Investigator Award for 2018. Mantzoros accepted the award today at a special ceremony at the Society’s 100th annual meeting  in Chicago.


Mantzoros is director of the Human Nutrition Unit in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and the Joslin Diabetes Center. Under his leadership, the Mantzoros lab seeks to answer important questions regarding obesity, insulin resistance, and their consequences which include diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and malignancies.


“Metabolic diseases – obesity, diabetes and associated ailments such as cardiovascular diseases, strokes and some kinds of cancer – are the epidemics of the 21st century,” said Mantzoros, who is also a Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, chief of the Endocrinology Section at the VA Boston Healthcare System and editor-in-chief of the journal Metabolism. “Our group works hard to understand the mechanisms underlying these disorders, to prevent, diagnose and treat these disease states by developing novel diagnostic and therapeutic tools for these conditions.”


The Endocrine Society is the oldest and largest global professional membership organization representing endocrinologists. One of 14 Laureate Awards given out by the Endocrine Society, in recognition of groundbreaking research and innovations in clinical care, the Outstanding Clinical Investigator Award honors an internationally recognized clinical investigator who has contributed significantly to understanding of endocrine and metabolic diseases.


In the mid-1990s, the discovery of the hormone leptin raised hopes that researchers had finally found a treatment for obesity. With its name based on the Greek word “leptos” (meaning thin), leptin secreted by fat cells appeared to switch off the urge to eat in preclinical animal studies. While those findings did not translate to humans who are overweight or obese, subsequent work by Mantzoros and his colleagues in the field resulted in the paradigm-shifting concept that fat tissue is not an inert energy storage organ but an active endocrine organ – a concept that revolutionized the way endocrinologists view metabolic disorders. Among his many endeavors, Mantzoros continues to investigate the role of leptin in obesity and other metabolic disorders.


“Dr. Mantzoros is an outstanding investigator and superb educator who is highly regarded nationally and internationally for his accomplishments in these roles,” said colleague Jeffrey R. Garber, MD, FACP, FACE, chief of Endocrinology at Atrius Health and an Associate Professor at HMS. “In addition to nearly 600 publications and two well-received texts, his many contributions to our field include novel discoveries and insights into the epidemiology and pathophysiology of energy homeostasis, obesity and diabetes.”


In November, he accepted the Obesity Society’s 2017 TOPS Research Achievement Award. The most prestigious award given by the Obesity Society – which publishes the journal Obesity, the world’s leading peer-reviewed obesity research journal – recognizes an individual for singular achievement or contribution to research in the field.


“He is a true innovator and leader in the field of metabolism, as evidenced by the novel findings he has published and the novel compounds he has developed over the past two decades,” according to the Endocrine Society. “Mantzoros’ translational contributions propelled forward our understanding of the physiology and therapeutic utility on leptin in humans, the development of novel treatments for metabolic disease, and the physiology of other key molecules and hormones in the gastrointestinal tract of humans.”


In recent studies, Mantzoros and colleagues used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to observe how food interacts with activity in the brain. When study participants are shown images of desirable foods like hamburgers and desserts, neutral objects like flowers and rocks, and less desirable foods like vegetables, fMRI imaging reveals different levels of activity in certain parts of the brain.


“From a strategic point of view, we now have a good tool to look into people’s brains – and we have a biological read out,” said Mantzoros. “We plan to use this technique to understand why people respond differently to food in the environment and, ultimately, to develop new medications to make it easier for people to keep their weight down.” 

About Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is a patient care, teaching and research affiliate of Harvard Medical School and consistently ranks as a national leader among independent hospitals in National Institutes of Health funding. BIDMC is the official hospital of the Boston Red Sox.

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is a part of Beth Israel Lahey Health, a health care system that brings together academic medical centers and teaching hospitals, community and specialty hospitals, more than 4,800 physicians and 36,000 employees in a shared mission to expand access to great care and advance the science and practice of medicine through groundbreaking research and education.