Douglas Coleman PhD

Recipient of the Canada Gairdner International Award, 2005
"For contributions to our understanding of obesity and particularly for the discovery of the adipose tissue hormone, leptin."

The Jackson Laboratories, Bar Harbor, Maine, USA


The incidence of obesity is reaching epidemic proportions in developed countries. Importantly, Douglas Coleman is a pioneer in the field of obesity. His innovative studies in mouse genetic models of obesity in the early 1970s provided compelling evidence for the existence of a hormone system that participated in the control of fat cell homeostasis. His research was the first to hint that the "dumb" fat cell participates in regulating the integrative biology of metabolism and weight control. Using elegant parabiosis cross-circulation protocols he noted that deficiency of a circulating "satiety" factor, or resistance to a circulating "satiety" factor, explained the phenotype of the obese (ob) and diabetes (db) mice, respectively. He concluded that the circulating factor would be fat cell-derived. The ob and db mice are now known to carry mutations in the leptin ligand and leptin receptor, respectively. These seminal findings, performed using integrative physiologic approaches, provided breakthrough insights into the causes of obesity.

Douglas Coleman was born and raised in Stratford, Ontario, Canada, and received his BSc degree from McMaster University in 1954. He completed his PhD at the University of Wisconsin in Biochemistry in 1958. His full career has been spent at the Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbour, Maine, where he performed his classic parabiosis studies. Douglas Coleman is a recipient of numerous prestigious awards and accolades including the Claude Bernard Medal (1977) and membership in the National Academy of Sciences (1998).