UW News

May 6, 2004

UW researcher to receive presidential early career award

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy will award a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers to Dr. David E. Cummings, associate professor of medicine in the University of Washington’s Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology and Nutrition. Cummings practices at the VA Puget Sound Health Care System, where he conducts research on body-weight regulation.

He is among 12 scientists to receive the award, which was established by President Clinton in 1996 to recognize exceptional potential for leadership at the frontiers of science. It is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on scientists and engineers in their early independent careers and will include five years of funding from the National Institutes of Health for Dr. Cummings’s research. President Bush presented the awards on May 4.

A graduate of Harvard Medical School/MIT, Cummings was chief medical resident at the Seattle VA Medical Center in 1990-91 and in 1993 was a senior fellow in the UW Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology and Nutrition and the Department of Pharmacology. He received an NIH Physician-Scientist Award and a Burroughs-Wellcome Fund Career Award and joined the School of Medicine faculty in 1998. He received the 2001 Fialkow Scholar Award from the UW Department of Medicine.

His research focuses on ghrelin, a gastric hormone, and other agents involved in the regulation of appetite and body weight. He and his co-investigators published a landmark paper on the role of ghrelin in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2002. He also investigates the genetics and pathophysiology of obesity, growth hormone therapy, anorexia in chronic disease, and other aspects of human metabolism.

Last year, Cummings spoke at a Nobel Conference in Stockholm, and he has been invited to the same conference this year to speak on the regulation of body weight. His research on the subject has been widely reported in the media, and last year he gave an invited presentation on “Battling Obesity” to the Congressional Biomedical Research Caucus.