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Welcome to the Schwartz Laboratory


Dr. Schwartz is Robert H. Williams Endowed Chair, Professor of Medicine in the Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology and Nutrition at the University of Washington and Executive Director of the UW Diabetes Institute. He has published > 230 articles and book chapters, and his research has been continuously funded by the NIH since he joined the faculty of UW in 1993. Dr. Schwartz sits on the editorial boards of a number of journals and has won numerous awards for his work. In addition, Dr. Schwartz serves as attending physician at Harborview Medical Center.

In addition to the role of insulin in the control of glucose homeostasis, it has been known for decades that mechanisms independent of insulin contribute as much as insulin to this process.  Until recently, these mechanisms were viewed as being fixed and unregulated and hence were not relevant to diabetes or its treatment.  Now, this is changing.

The Schwartz laboratory investigates the role of the brain in  the control of both energy balance and glucose homeostasis with a focus on whether defects in these systems contribute to the pathogenesis of obesity and diabetes. Our lab, in collaboration with the lab of Greg Morton, has shown that circulating hormones (such as leptin) can act in the brain to normalize elevated blood glucose levels in diabetic animals by powerfully activating insulin-independent processes.  A major focus of ongoing work is to delineate mechanisms underlying brain control of insulin-independent glucose disposal, also termed “glucose effectiveness” (GE), and to better understand its implications for the future of diabetes treatment.

Schwartz photos combined

Among ongoing projects in the Schwartz lab are studies that seek to identify brain circuits that control GE, to delineate how activation of these circuits lowers (or raises) blood glucose, and ultimately to clarify how pancreatic- and brain-centered control systems interact. To this end, we are currently using both “optogenetics” and DREADD methodology to enable selective activation or inhibition of specific neuronal subsets in an effort to identify neurocircuits that mediate insulin-independent blood glucose lowering with the long-term goal of investigating whether they may one day be targeted therapeutically to treat diabetes.

Other ongoing studies investigate the pharmacological and physiological aspects of brain control of energy balance and glucose homeostasis in response to an array of humoral signals, including GLP-1, FGF19, leptin, insulin, and nutrients such as glucose. We are also investigating whether the brain participates in the effect of bariatric surgery to improve energy balance and glucose metabolism and establishing new methods with which to interrogate how the brain controls glucose metabolism in liver and other tissues.

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UW Diabetes Institute Executive Director Michael Schwartz in the News

UW Diabetes Institute Executive Director Michael Schwartz Gives DoM Grand Rounds Lecture

DOCE Director Michael Schwartz, MD and Novo Nordisk collaborate on exploring the role of the brain in regulating blood glucose and obesity

DOCE Director Michael Schwartz, MD, Featured in Sigma Podcast

DOCE Director Michael Schwartz, MD, Featured in UW Medicine Magazine

DOCE Director Michael Schwartz, MD, Cross-published in Endocrine Society Journals

DOCE Director recognized as one of the most highly influential biomedical researchers in a paper published in the European Journal of Clinical Investigation

DOCE Director Michael Schwartz, MD, Featured in ASCI Interview

DOCE Director Michael Schwartz, MD, awarded a 4-year NIH R01 for his project “ Novel Brain Mechanisms Controlling Glucose Homeostasis”.

DOCE Director Michael Schwartz, MD, Awarded 2014 Hammond Memorial Lecture

DOCE Researchers published in Nature Reviews Neuroscience

DOCE Director Michael Schwartz, MD has been awarded a 5-year NIH R01 for his project “Novel Anti-Diabetic Actions of Hypothalamic FGF19-FGFR1 Signaling

DOCE Director Michael Schwartz, MD, published in Nature

Recent Publications of Original Research:

  1. Thaler JP, Yi C-X, Schur EA, Guyenet SJ, Hwang BH, Dietrich MO, Zhao X, Sarruf SA, Izgur V, Maravilla KR, Nguyen HT, Fischer JD, Matsen ME, Wisse BE, Morton GJ, Horvath TL, Baskin DG, Tschöp MH, Schwartz MW. Obesity is associated with hypothalamic injury in rodent models and humans. J Clin Invest. 122:152-162, 2012. PMCID: PMC3248304.
  2. Guyenet S, Matsen M, Morton M, Kaiyala K, Schwartz M. Rapid glutamate release in the mediobasal hypothalamus accompanies feeding and is exaggerated by an obesogenic food. Molecular Metabolism. 2:116-122, 2013. PMCID: PMC3817387.
  3. Morton G, Matsen M, Bracy D, Meek T, Nguyen H, Stefanovski D, Bergman R, Wasserman DH, Schwartz MW. FGF19 action in the brain induces insulin-independent glucose lowering. J Clin Invest. 123:4799-4808, 2013. PMCID: PMC3809800.
  4. Schwartz MW, Seeley RJ, Tschöp MH, Woods SC, Morton GJ, Myers MG, D’Alessio D. Cooperation between brain and islet in glucose homeostasis and diabetes. Nature. 503:59-66, 2013. PMCID: PMC3983910
  5. Morton GJ, Kaiyala KJ, Foster-Schubert KE, Cummings DE, Schwartz MW. Carbohydrate feeding dissociates the postprandial FGF19 response from circulating bile acid levels in humans. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 99:E241-E245, 2014. PMCID: PMC3913810.
  6. Berkseth KE, Guyenet SJ, Melhorn SJ, Lee D, Thaler JP, Schur EA, Schwartz MW. Hypothalamic gliosis associated with high fat diet feeding is reversible in mice: a combined immunohistochemical and magnetic resonance imaging study. Endocrinology. In Press, 2014. PMC Journal – In Process.


Recent Editorials and Reviews:

  1. Guyenet SJ, Schwartz MW. Regulation of Food Intake, Energy Balance and Body Fat Mass: Implications for the Pathogenesis and Treatment of Obesity. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 97:745-755, 2012. PMCID: PMC3319208.
  2. Sarruf DA, Bonner-Weir S and Schwartz MW.  New Clues to Bariatric Surgery’s Benefits. Nature Med. 18:860-861, 2012. PMCID: PMC3600352.
  3. Schwartz MW. An Inconvenient Truth About Obesity. Molecular Metabolism. 1:2-4, 2012.
  4. Berkseth K, Schur E, Schwartz M. A Role for Natriuretic Peptides in the Central Control of Energy Balance? Diabetes. 62:1379-1381, 2013. PMCID: PMC3636633.
  5. Schwartz MW, Baskin DG. Leptin and the brain: then and now. J Clin Invest. 123:2344-2345, 2013. PMCID: PMC3668840.
  6. Thaler JP, Guyenet SJ, Dorfman M, Wisse BE, Schwartz MW. Hypothalamic inflammation: Marker or mechanism of obesity pathogenesis? Diabetes. 62:2629-2634, 2013. PMCID: PMC3717869.
  7. Morton GJ, Meek TH, Schwartz MW. Neurobiology of food intake in health and disease. Nat Rev Neurosci. 15:367-378, 2014.
  8. Schwartz MW, Tschop M, Zeltser LM. A mother’s influence on metabolic disorders. Nat Med. 20:244-145, 2014.
  9. Rojas JM, Schwartz MW. Control of hepatic glucose metabolism by islet and brain. Diabetes Obes Metab. In press, 2014.


Lab Life



  • Members of the Laboratory

     Michael Schwartz, MD Michael W. Schwartz, MD
     DSCN1325 copy(250x400) Jarrad Scarlett, MD, PhD
    Acting Instructor
     DSCN1384 copy(250x400) Hong Nguyen
    Research Scientist, Laboratory Manager
     DSCN1308 copy(250x500) Kayoko Ogimoto, PhD
    Research Scientist
     DSCN1285(250x400) Miles Matsen
    Research Scientist, Metabolic Studies Director
     DSCN1300 copy(250x400) Jarrell Nelson
    Research Scientist
     DSCN1291 copy 250x400 Vincent Damian
    Research Scientist
     DSCN1321 copy(250x400) Loan Nguyen
    Histology Technician