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Dr. Joshua Thaler Receives 2012 Perkins Coie “Award for Discovery”

Press Release

$20,000 Grant To Be Used to Develop New Treatments for Obesity.

SEATTLE (August 15, 2012) Perkins Coie is pleased to announce that Dr. Joshua Thaler, Assistant Professor of Metabolism, Endocrinology and Nutrition at the University of Washington has received the $20,000 Perkins Coie “Award for Discovery” for 2012.  Dr. Thaler will use the award to continue his work on obesity and, more specifically, the relationship between how cells and neurons of the brain affect energy metabolism.  The “Award for Discovery” is part of Perkins Coie's commitment to support translational research at the UW Medicine – South Lake Union campus.  The 2012 award to Dr. Thaler is the sixth of its kind made by Perkins Coie.

"Dr. Thaler's research is both significant and innovative, as he pursues new insights and methods for treating obesity," said Jim Lisbakken, a partner and co-chair of Perkin’s Coie’s Life Sciences practice. “Perkins Coie is proud of continuing to support leading-edge science at the UW Medicine – South Lake Union campus and seeing the projects lead to sources of additional funding and important research results."

Through his earlier research, Dr. Thaler discovered that high-fat diets may do more damage than conventionally believed.  Dr. Thaler believes that poor diet choices may cause potentially permanent changes (similar to scarring or inflammation) in the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that triggers the sense of fullness.  This change or injury seems to prevent the brain from sensing that the body has consumed enough food, thereby leading to the inability to resist additional food consumption and weight gain.

Dr. Thaler plans to use a portion of the Award for Discovery to conduct a series of MRI-based tests, in which he hopes to observe the evolution of the injury process over time within animals. He anticipates that these findings may provide a new direction in developing drugs for obesity prevention.

“We are grateful for the support Perkins Coie has extended over the past five years to bring new ideas to fruition in medical research.  Dr. Thaler joins other recipients of the Perkins Coie ‘Award for Discovery’ whose work has been characterized by rigor and innovation in the search for better treatments for common, debilitating diseases.  We are pleased to see Dr. Thaler's outstanding abilities recognized by the latest award,” said Dr. John T. Slattery, Vice Dean of Research and Graduate Education at the UW School of Medicine.

About the Perkins Coie “Award for Discovery”: Since 2007, Perkins Coie has awarded a $20,000 grant each year to support new projects that will generate data to be used as a basis for larger research programs to be funded by the National Institutes of Health or other funding agencies.  In 2012, Perkins Coie extended its contribution with a commitment of another $100,000 to be distributed over the next five years.

About Perkins Coie: Founded in 1912, Perkins Coie has more than 950 lawyers in 19 offices across the United States and Asia. We provide a full array of corporate, commercial litigation and intellectual property legal services to a broad range of clients, from FORTUNE 50 corporations to small, independent start-ups, as well as public and not-for-profit organizations.