Douglas Coleman, a retired researcher at the Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine, whose work helped elucidate the role of genetics in obesity, has died, the New York Times reports. He was 82.
By comparing obese, diabetic, and normal mice, Coleman found that the normal mice had a blood-borne factor that suppressed appetite. As the Times notes, many obesity researchers weren't convinced that there was such a satiety factor; they thought obesity was due solely to behavior.
Coleman's work, though, led Jeffrey Friedman at the Rockefeller University to identify leptin as that satiety factor and clone the gene. Coleman and Friedman shared the 2010 Lasker award for basic research.
"Doug was a scientist's scientist and a good friend," Friedman says in a statement from the Jackson Lab. "His research in the 1970s combined genetics and physiology in a creative and illuminating way and led him to hypothesize that body weight was controlled by a hormonal system. This prescient hypothesis animated the research in my laboratory and was later proved correct with the cloning of the ob gene and the identification of leptin."