Scientific Director Juleen R. Zierath – University of Copenhagen

Scientific Director Juleen R. Zierath


Brief curriculum vitae

Juleen R. Zierath is Executive Director of the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research. She is also Professor and Scientific Director of the Center’s Section of Integrative Physiology (20%).

In addition, she holds a position as Professor of Clinical Integrative Physiology and Head of the Section of Integrative Physiology at the Department of Molecular Medicine and Surgery and the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology at Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm.

Awards and Honors

Juleen R. Zierath was the recipient of the 2016 Novo Nordisk Foundation Lecture awarded to a scientist from a Nordic country for distinguished research or treatment related to diabetes. She has previously been awarded the Paul-Langerhans Medal from the German Diabetes Society (2015), the Minkowski Prize from the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (2001), the Hagberg Prize from Karolinska Institutet (2001) and the Fernström Prize (1999).

In 2016, she received a 10-year research grant for Distinguished Professors from the Swedish Research Council (50M SEK), and in 2015, she became the grant holder of a 6-year Challenge Programme from the Novo Nordisk Foundation (60M DKK).  She has previously been the recipient of a 5-year Advanced Grant Award from the European Research Council (2.5M EUR) and has received several diabetes-focused European Union grants in the 6th framework program including EUGENE2, EUGeneHeart, and EXGENESIS.

Juleen R. Zierath is a member of the Nobel Assembly (since 2006), where she is involved in the selection of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, and she was chairman of the Nobel Committee between 2013-2015. She is an elected member of the European Molecular Biology Organization, EMBO (since 2016), and is President of European Association for the study of Diabetes (EASD/EFSD) (since 2015).

She is sitting on the Scientific Advisory Board for the Knut and Alice Wallenberg’s Foundation, was Editor-in-Chief of DIABETOLOGIA 2010-2015, and is a member of the editorial board of CELL (since 2013). She was Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Keystone Symposia (2010-2016) and is currently Secretary of the Board and Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board for the Keystone Symposia (since 2016).

Research Profile

Professor Zierath's research focuses on cellular mechanisms underlying the development of insulin resistance in Type 2 Diabetes (T2DM).  The overarching goal of her group is to identify and validate molecular targets that prevent or treat skeletal muscle insulin resistance in T2DM.

Her group is taking a translational approach to resolve the mechanism for peripheral insulin resistance using cell-based systems, genetically modified animal models, and clinical material from T2DM patients. In particular, Professor Zierath's group is investigating if synchronizing exercise and nutrient interventions to the molecular circadian clock can maximize the health promoting benefit of these interventions, to enhance insulin sensitivity and prevent T2DM.

Professor Zierath's has experimentally de-convoluted the complex interaction between distinct insulin signaling pathways that modulate divergent downstream metabolic and gene regulatory responses in skeletal muscle. She has published more than 210 research papers and 70 review articles, with key discoveries published in Science, Cell, Nature Genetics, and Cell Metabolism. Her publications have been cited an average of 55 times each, and the h-index is 69.

Key Recent Discoveries

Exercise alters promoter methylation of metabolic genes in skeletal muscle

Selected publications

  • Mudry, J.M., D.G. Lassiter, C. Nylén, S. García-Calzón, E. Näslund, A. Krook, and J.R. Zierath. Insulin and glucose alter death-associated protein kinase 3 (DAPK3) DNA methylation in human skeletal muscle. Diabetes 66(3):651-662, 2017.

  • Ruby, M.A. J. Massart, D.M. Hunderosse, M. Schönke, J.C. Correia, S.M. Louie, J.L. Ruas, E. Näslund, D.K. Nomura, and J.R. Zierath. Human Carboxylesterase 2 Reverses obesity-induced diacylglycerol accumulation and glucose intolerance. Cell Reports, 17;18:636-646, 2017.

  • Kirchner H., I. Sinha, H. Gao, M.A. Ruby, M. Schönke, J.M. Lindvall, R. Barrès, A. Krook, E. Näslund, K. Dahlman-Wright, and J.R. Zierath Altered DNA methylation of glycolytic and lipogenic genes in liver from obese and type 2 diabetic patients. Mol. Metab. 5:171-183, 2016.

  • Cartee, G.D., R.T. Hepple, M.M. Bamman and J.R. Zierath. Exercise promotes healthy aging of skeletal muscle. Cell Metabolism 23:1034-1047, 2016.

  • Barrès, R. and J.R. Zierath. The role of diet and exercise in the transgenerational epigenetic landscape of T2DM. Nat Rev Endocrinol. 12:441-451, 2016.

  • Egan, B., J.A. Hawley and J.R. Zierath. SnapShot Exercise Metabolism. Cell Metabolism 24(2):342-342.e1. 2016.