Endocrine Abstracts (2012) 28

Society for Endocrinology Hoffenberg International Medal Lecture



Gerard Karsenty, Professor and Chairman, Department of Genetics & Development, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY, USA Abstract

Gerard Karsenty received his M.D. and Ph.D. from the University of Paris, France and completed his post-doctoral training at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in 1990.

His laboratory has studied every aspect of skeletal biology ranging from cell differentiation to function. His laboratory was the first one to decipher the molecular bases of osteoblast-specific gene expression, a work that culminated in his identification of Runx2 as the master gene of osteoblast differentiation. This was followed by the identification of an entire cascade of transcription factors regulating osteoblast differentiation with his demonstration of the role in this pathway of Twist and ATF4. He also identified Gm2 as the master gene of parathyroid gland development. His laboratory has had, from its inception, a continuous interest in the physiology of the skeleton.

After having elucidated the genetic basis of the mineralization of the extracellular matrix in bone (and its absence in other tissues), his laboratory has focused its attention on the genetic basis of bone growth, modeling and remodeling. The overarching assumption of his work is that the appearance of bone during evolution has profoundly changed the physiology of animals because of the energetic cost that bone growth entails. Thus, in the last 10 years, his group has explored the hypothesis that the control of bone mass and energy metabolism must be coordinated and that this coordination is done in large part by hormones like leptin and osteocalcin that appear during evolution with bone. His lab has explored through genetic and molecular means every aspect of this hypothesis.

At the same time as expanding his research, the Karsenty lab is exploring whether there are additional connections between bone physiology and the function of other organs such as fertility. This work culminated in the discovery that bone, via osteocalcin, regulates testosterone production. For his work Dr. Karsenty has received several national and international awards.

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