Prof. Dr. Michael Ristow is the new director of the Institute of Experimental Endocrinology
On January 1, Michael Ristow became tenured Professor of Experimental Endocrinology and Diabetology at Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin. His research focuses on the development of age-related diseases. What role is played by the molecular mechanisms underlying metabolism? And how do they influence life expectancy? Prof. Ristow will now be investigating these questions at Charité, with the aim of preserving human health as long as possible. His professorship also entails him taking over as director of Charité’s Institute of Experimental Endocrinology. Prof. Ristow is coming to Berlin to succeed Prof. Josef Köhrle.
For the past ten years, Prof. Ristow was Professor of Energy Metabolism in the Department of Health Sciences and Technology at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH Zurich). His research, which he will now continue at Charité, has been in the realm of metabolic regulation, with a special focus on the development of age-related diseases and human life expectancy.
“Obesity, diabetes, neurodegeneration, and many types of cancer are associated with a dysfunctional metabolism,” Prof. Ristow says. “My goal is to improve our understanding of the molecular mechanisms behind this. New therapeutic approaches and preventive health measures could then specifically target metabolic issues, thus halting disease in its tracks.”
To investigate the highly complex pathways of human metabolism, Prof. Ristow will not only use cell cultures but also work with experimental models of Caenorhabditis elegans, a nematode worm that is often used in research. In addition, he and his research team will study clinical samples and analyze anonymized patient records with the help of cutting-edge big data technology. One of their goals is to discover whether specific medications or dietary supplements help patients stay healthy longer than those who take other medications or none at all.
“After so many years of mainly being in the lab, I’m happy to get back to implementing clinical aspects as well,” says Prof. Ristow. “Now I’ll be able to work on many fascinating research questions that have long been on my mind, and I’ll be able to do so in the clinical environment at Charité while taking a translational approach.” He is especially motivated to do this work by changes resulting from the current demographic shift. “Life expectancy is extremely high these days. Yet for many people, a long period of life fraught with disease sets in around 60. In my view, it’s important – both for individuals and for the health care system – to extend the period of life in which we enjoy good health. I would like to use my research and this tenured professorship to contribute to that effort.”
Short biography of Prof. Ristow
Michael Ristow was born in Lübeck in 1967. He studied human medicine at Ruhr-Universität Bochum from 1986 to 1992, where he subsequently obtained his medical doctorate. In 1992, he began a residency in internal medicine, also specializing in endocrinology and diabetes. In between, he spent two years at the Joslin Diabetes Center of Harvard Medical School in Boston, USA, as a research fellow before completing his residency in Cologne in 2000. From 2001 to 2004, he conducted research at the German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbruecke while also qualifying as a professor at Freie Universität Berlin in 2002. From 2004 to 2012, he served as Professor of Human Nutrition at the Friedrich Schiller University Jena before the moving to the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH Zurich) in 2013, where he held a professorship in energy metabolism in the Department of Health Sciences and Technology until the end of 2022.
Institute of Experimental Endocrinology
Prof. Michael Ristow
Director of the Institute of Experimental Endocrinology
Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin
Tel.: +49 30 450 524 105
Back to Overview