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Antje Körner Group: "Childhood Obesity & Endocrinology"


Research topics

​Adipose tissue development in children

Normal adipose tissue development is critical for maintaining a healthy metabolic state. An excess accumulation of adipose tissue mass in childhood or adolescence results in obesity. This is often associated with pathological metabolic and cardiovascular alterations. In this project, we aim to identify and characterize regulators of adipose tissue development and obesity. For this, we apply a translational approach combining in vitro and in vivo studies with the analyses of adipose tissue samples of lean and obese children (Leipzig Adipose Childhood Cohort).

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Clinical and experimental pediatric endocrinology

Obesity-related adipocyte dysfunction can be manifested already during childhood. Clinically and experimentally, we are examining the consequences of childhood obesity for the endocrine function of adipose tissue and the impact on the children’s development. Furthermore, we investigate gene variants leading to monogenetic obesity.

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Development of childhood obesity and associated metabolic and cardiovascular comorbidities

Alterations of the cardiovascular system and the circadian rhythm are frequent complications seen in obese children and adults. In this context we aim to decipher the communication of adipose tissue and the cardiovascular system as well as the circadian rhythm in obese children and young adults.

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Genetic and epigenetic background of adipose tissue development and early-onset obesity in children

The aim of this project is to identify new functional candidate genes involved human adipogenesis and adipose tissue dysfunction as a cause for early-onset obesity and associated insulin resistance in children.

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Group members

A list of our current and former group members and our MD students you can find here.


​A list of our publications you can find here.​​



​​​​​​​Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) ​ 


  • MD-LEICS​: Modern Diseases - Leipzig Clinician Scientist Programm 
  • African-German Scientific Exchange in the Field of Public Health​
  • Klinische Forschergruppe (KFO)152 Atherobesity; K03512/1+2 atherobesity 
  • Sonderforschungsbere​ich (SFB)1052 Obesity Mechanisms; C1052/C5​                                                                                                     ​   ​

Bundesministerium für Bildu​ng und Forschung (BMBF)  ​​

BMBF_gefördert vom_de.jpg


News & announcements

  • ​June 2024: Exciting new study publised in Nature​ from Helmholtz Munich reveals fathers' diets before conception impacts children's health! Data from LIFE Child supported the research showing healthier paternal diets reduce kids' obesity and diabetes risk. 
  • We are hiring! - 2 Science coordinator positions --> LIFE Child and SaxoChiLD​
  • 01.06.2024: SaxoChiLD is partnering with DZKJ ​to research a healthy future for children and adolescents. Universität Leipzig: Deutsches Zentrum für Kinder- und Jugendgesundheit startet in die Aufbauphase (
  • May 2024: We congratulate Dr. Kathrin Landgraf on successfully completing her habilitation on the topic "Childhood Obesity - Multifactorial Pathogenesis and the Role of Adipose Tissue". PXL_20240528_145619284 (002).jpg
  • Prof. Dr. Antje Körner is appointed as Co-Chair of the EASO working group on pediatric obesity. Childhood Obesity - EASO
  • Congratulations to Mandy Geserick! Defended her M.D. thesis summa cum laude.IMG_0304 crop2.jpg
  • May 2024: Poster award received by Lea Prengemann at the DDG conference (DDG/Deckbar) 100524_DMD_06757_Lea-Posterpreis.jpg
  • Prof. Dr. Antje Körner at the German Parliament:
    In the 2nd Helmholtz Munich Expert Hour on April 10, 2024, representatives from politics and science gathered once again to discuss pressing health issues and stay informed about the latest developments in research. Helmholtz Munich zu Gast im Bundestag: Durchbrüche bei den Volkskrankheiten Adipositas und Diabetes - Helmholtz Munich (
  • Obesity Prize for Excellence for Prof. Dr. Antje Körner: Antje Körner has been named as the 2024 recipient of the EASO-Novo Nordisk Foundation Obesity Prize for Excellence. The prize recognizes outstanding research or technology contributions which improve the understanding of obesity, its aetiology, complications, prevention, and management. It includes a DKK 2 million award, with DKK 1.7 million allocated for research. The research of Antje Körner has significantly contributed to the understanding of the origin and consequences of childhood obesity. find out more: Universität Leipzig: Obesity Prize for Excellence for Antje Körner (
  • February 2024: Dr. Robert Stein receives project funding from the German Diabetes Society (DDG: Deutsche Diabetes Gesellschaft) for the project "Identification of subtypes of children and adolescents at risk of diabetes using cluster analyses and their relevance in relation to the occurrence of (pre)diabetes".​​
  • Oscar Karges successfully applied for a doctoral sponsorship from the Medical Faculty of the Leipzig University.
  • ​​01.07.2023: Prof. Dr. Antje Körner to head the Metabolism Division at HI-MAG:  Prof. Dr. Antje Körner started as head of the Metabolism Division at the Helmholtz Institute for Metabolic, Obesity and Vascular Research (HI-MAG) on July 1, 2023. Antje Körner has joined HI-MAG as the head of Metabolic Research with a joint professorship at the University of Leipzig.  press release HI-MAG press release Leipzig University​
  • 09.05.2023: Poster award received by Martha Hanschkow at the CRC Retreat 2023 (Impressions of I. CRC1052 Retreat in 2023 - Sfb1052 Mechanismen der Adipositas)
  • 24.03.2023: Dr. Kathrin Landgraf received the Outstanding ECR Presentation Award (Runner-up) at the 46th ATDG conference; Adipose Biology: Metabolic Buffering in an Obesogenic World, Edinburgh, UK
  • ​​19.12.2022: Published in Nature Metabolism: Our discovery of ectopic expression of agouti signaling protein (ASIP) as one monogenic cause of childhood obesity.; Aberrant expression of agouti signaling protein (ASIP) as a cause of monogenic severe childhood obesity; DOI: 10.1038/s42255-022-00703-9
  • 04.11.2022: Elena Kempf successfully defended her doctoral thesis (title: Molecular and functional alterations related to growth in childhood obesity) with the grade Summa Cum Laude!       
  • September 2022: DFG funding for African-German Scientific Exchange in the Field of Public Health; Starting reserach project between University Leipzig and University of Global Health Equity (UGHE) 
  • DDG Promotionsförderung for our medical doctoral students Lea Prengemann and Johannes Riedel! - Lea Prengemann is working on insulin resistance in children under growth hormone therapy and Johannes Riedel will investigate the transition of adolescents with obesity into adulthood from a psychosocial perspective as part of the CO-FU trial. --> Promotionsförderprogramm: Deutsche Diabetes Gesellschaft e.V. (​​
  • 20.07.2022: Franziska Voigtmann​ successfully defended her doctoral thesis (title: „Identifikation einer neuen Leptinrezeptor (LEPR) -Variante und Nachweis der funktionellen Relevanz für die Therapieentscheidung von Patientinnen mit morbider Adipositas") with the grade Summa Cum Laude!                                      Published in Metabolism: DOI: 10.1016/j.metabol.2020.154438
  • 30.06.2022: DFG funds MD-LEICS - Modern Diseases Leipzig - Clinician Scientist program led by Prof. Dr. Antje Körner --> DFG - Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft - DFG fördert zehn weitere Clinician Scientist-Programme an Medizinischen Fakultäten
  • 27.05.2022: Prof. Dr. Antje Körner received the Elliot-Joslin Prize 2022 by the German Diabetes Society (DDG) --> Universität Leipzig: Auszeichnung für Adipositasforschung im Kinderalter (
  • 23.06.2021: Published online now: We present new evidence on growth alterations in children with obesity here. (pdf). We provide height reference values specific for children with obesity  --> FREE access via Ped(z)App, CrescNet, R-package.
  • 15.05.2021: Published online now: We present longitudinal evidence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease as a risk factor for dysglycemia in children here (pdf).
  • 01.04.2021: Prof. Dr. Antje Körner will receive funding from the German Research Foundation for sequencing in childhood cohorts in collaboration with Prof. Dr. Eleftheria Zeggini ("Molecular resolutions of diabesity in children").
      • 10.03.2021: A milestone for research in Saxony: The “SaxoChiLD” (Saxonian Child health innovation Leipzig-Dresden) project becomes a partner of the new German Research Center for Child and Youth Health and is coordinated by Prof. Dr. Antje Körner. Please find more information here.
      • 10.11.2020: Prof. Dr. Antje Körner  has received the internationally prestigious Research Award of the European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology (ESPE) 2020 for achievements of outstanding quality in pediatric endocrinology for her work in experimental and clinical childhood obesity research. The award winners can be found here.
      • 26.09.2019: Dr. Kathrin Landgraf received the Yound Investigators Award by the scientific journal "Molecular Metabolism" for presenting the best abstract at the 7th Helmholtz Diabetes Conference held in Munich.
  • 21.01.2019: Elena Kempf received the Young Scientist Prize 2019Young Scientist Prize 2019 in the category "Obesity" awarded at the Leipzig Research Festival of the Faculty of Medicine and the Faculty of Life Sciences with her work on "Characterization of subcutaneous stromal vascular cells in order to establish new cell models for human adipogenesis".
  • 08.08.2018: Martha Hanschkow received the "ESPE Early Career Scientific Development Grant" by the European Society of Pediatric Endocrinology and works as a visiting scientist in the lab of Dr. Anne Bouloumie in Toulouse, where she works on the characterization of the stromavascular fraction of adipose tissue samples.

Positions available


  • PhD position: Origin of Common Diseases in Childhood – Genetic/Epigenetic Predisposition 
  • PhD position: ​Origin of Common Diseases in Childhood – Health Behaviour, Nutrition and Environment​
  • PhD positions (projects on "(Epi)-Genetic regulators of development of obesity and diabetes in children" and "Molecular factors in the regulation of adipogenesis and adipose tissue function in childhood obesity")
  • MD theses​


​Prof. Dr. med. Antje Körner
Center for Pediatric Research Leipzig (CPL)
(Medizinisches Forschungszentrum, Haus C)
Liebigstraße 21
04103 Leipzig

Tel:     +49 / (0)341 - 97 26500
Fax:    +49 / (0)341 - 97 26069

Collaborations and Networks

     Prof. Dr. Markus Scholz

     Prof. Dr. Matthias Blüher

     PD Dr. Nora Klöting

     PD Dr. Dr. John Heiker

     Clinical Trial Unit​

  • Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Leipzig, Germany

     Prof. Dr. Ana Zenclussen    

     Prof. Dr. Martin von Bergen

     Prof. Dr. Annika Jahnke Berger

  • Helmholtz-Center for Environmental Health (HMGU), Munich, Germany 
     Institute of Experimental Genetics (IEG), Neuherberg, Germany
     Dr. Raffaele Teperino
     Institute of Translational Genomics (ITG), Neuherberg, Germany
     Prof. Dr. Eleftheria Zeggini
     Institute of Stem Cell Research (ISF), Neuherberg, Germany
     Dr. Anna Pertek

  • Ulm University, Ulm, Germany

     Prof. Dr. Martin Wabitsch

     Dr. Tamás Röszer

  • Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany

     Prof. Dr. Nico Lachmann

  • Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany

      Dr. Peter Kühnen

  • University of Witten/Herdecke, Datteln, Germany

     Prof. Dr. Thomas Reinehr

​     Dr.  Robert Ojiambo​​

  • Paracelsus Medical University, Salzburg, Austria

     Prof. Dr. Daniel Weghuber

  • Joslin Diabetes Center, Boston, MA, USA

     Dr. Yu-Hua Tseng

  • van Andel Institute, Grand Rapids, MI, USA

     Prof. Dr. Andrew Pospisilik

  • University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK

     Prof. Dr. Sadaf Farooqi

  • INSERM, University of Toulouse, Toulouse, France

     Dr. Anne Bouloumie-Diehl

  • Erasmus University Rotterdam, Rotterdam, Netherlands

     Dr. Janine Felix

  • University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia

     Prof. Dr. Matt Sabin 

  • Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Be`er Sheva, Israel

     Prof. Dr. Assaf Rudich

     Prof. Dr. Iris Shai





Clinical studies and biobanks

Overview of all our clinical studies and available biobanks


Leipzig school children project:
= representative normal populations
n~3000 total; n~1200 for consented DNA analysis

LIFE Child Health:
= longitudinal childhood population including detailed anthropometric and metabolic phenotyping
n>3500 total (ongoing)
More information


Leipzig Obesity Childhood Cohort:
incl. detailed phenotyping and oGTT's n>2200 (incl. follow-ups n>500)

Leipzig Atherobesity Childhood Cohort:
obese children n=100 and lean children n=70
incl. detailed metabolic and cardiovascular phenotyping and MRI scans as well as follow-up data

LIFE Child Obesity:
= longitudinal childhood population incl. detailed metabolic phenotyping
n>340 participants in total (n>680 visits, incl. follow-ups)
More information


Intervention in obese children:

= inpatients, 6 week exercise intervention
n=62 incl. detailed phenotyping

Leipzig Circadian Rhythm Cohort:

= young healthy lean and obese adults incl. frequent serum sampling over 30 h
n=59 incl. detailed metabolic phenotyping

Adipose tissue pediatric biobank:

= adipose tissue samples from lean and obese children incl. consented DNA analysis
n=467 total currently (incl. 395 samples), ongoing study


n~1000 incl. MetaboChip data:
cohorts contributed to MAGIC and EGG consortia, collaborations and publications
- Metabolic traits (Scott, Nature genet Epub) collaboration
- intrauterine growth (Hokoshi, Nature Epub) collaboration
- available for own analyses

n>2000 incl. targeted (candidate) genetic analyses and GWAS replication:
- FTO (Dina, Nat genet 2007) collaboration
- GWAS (Meyre, Nat genet 2009; Scherag, PLoS genet 2010) collaboration
- TCF7L2 (Körner, JCEM 2007)
- Metabolic traits (Windholz, PLoS One 2011)
- GPR120 (Ichimura, Nature Epub) collaboration

n~3000 incl. ExomeChip data (currently done in collaboration with
Wellcome Trust, UK):
- available for own analyses (in collaboration with WTTC)


n~5000 data sets from according cohorts (ongoing)

n~2750 lean, n~1750 obese (ongoing)

n~2800 incl. consented DNA analysis (ongoing)

n>1800 incl. oGTT's (ongoing)



Besides the common multifactorial and polygenetic causes of obesity, there are also rare cases of single gene mutations interfering with the hypothalamic control of satiety and thus leading to obesity. Those patients are mostly severely affected and present with extreme early-onset obesity and hyperphagia. Setmelanotide, a new drug targeting the MC4-receptor dependent hypothalamic satiety control has shown promising results during the first years of clinical experience. The department of pediatrics at the university hospital in Leipzig is now able to provide treatment with Setmelanotide through an international multicenter clinical trial (NCT03013543) for some of those rare genetic disorders. For more details, please contact us.

Contact details

Prof. Dr. med. Antje Körner

Principal investigator   

Phone.: +49 341 9726500   



​Dr. med. Robert Stein

​Deputy PI

​Phone.: +49 341 9720296



Childhood Obesity Follow-up Study

 Aim of the study

Obesity is a life-long burden that often starts already during childhood, although obesity-associated comorbidities such as diabetes, fatty liver disease and atherosclerosis may manifest later in life. This study aims to explore the transition of children with obesity into adulthood from a comprehensive biological, (epi) genetic, environmental and sociopsychological perspective. We will emphasize on risk factors as well as protective factors during childhood that enable the prediction of disease progression during adulthood. We are collaborating with the Helmholtz Institute for Metabolic, Obesity and Vascular Research (HIMAG), as well as the LIFE Child Study.

Who may participate?

People who meet the following requirements:

  • Adults at the age of 18 and above that have been treated for obesity during childhood at the university hospital Leipzig

    What happens during the study?

    You will undergo the following examinations:
  • Structured reporting of medical history and completion of questionnaires targeting lifestyle, environment and well-being
  • determination of body measurements (weight, height, BMI etc.)
  • measurement of body fat and muscle mass (bioimpedance analysis)
  • blood examinations
  • oral glucose tolerance testing
  • sonography of common carotid artery
  • sonography-based liver elastography
  • 24 hour ambulatory blood pressure measurement

    How long does the participation at the study take and will there be a remuneration?

    The examinations take place over the course of one day (6h in total) and you will receive 50,-€ expense allowance.

    You are interested?

    Please do not hesitate to contact us! The study is conducted under the lead of Prof. Antje Körner and clinician scientist Dr. Robert Stein from the Department of Pediatrics.

    Tel:      +49 341 97 26922

Liebigstraße 20a, Haus 6
04103 Leipzig
0341 - 97 26242
0341 - 97 26229