ULB Center for Diabetes Research

Signal Transduction and Metabolism

Group Leader: Esteban N. Gurzov, PhD.


The Signal Transduction and Metabolism laboratory focuses on the dysfunctional pathways in metabolism and diabetes. Great efforts have been made to understand how different cell types respond to the extracellular stimuli that control signalling pathways in the context of metabolic dysfunction and diabetes, but the molecular mechanisms by which these pathologies occur remain poorly understood.


Group Leader, Dr Esteban Gurzov

Dr Esteban Gurzov has dedicated his scientific career to investigate the pathogenic mechanisms of diabetes and obesity and the discovery of novel therapeutics. After his productive postdoctoral period in Belgium, he moved to Australia to continue his training in molecular pathways of diabetes. In 2017, he received an Associate Researcher/Chercheur Qualifié position from the FRS-FNRS to head the Signal Transduction and Metabolism laboratory at the ULB Center for Diabetes Research.

JDRF Future Research Leader

JMB Career Advancement Initiative

G.B. Morgagni Silver Medal Award 

Research Interests: Molecular mechanisms of diabetes

The focus of our research is to understand the signalling pathways responsible for the development of metabolic diseases. We study mechanisms of insulin-producing β-cell dysfunction and death in the pancreas and insulin resistance in the liver, muscle and white adipocyte tissue. The strength of the laboratory is the combined use of molecular biology, animal models of diabetes and human samples. In addition, we are testing new molecules that can be used in pre-clinical studies to measure β-cell mass for the early diagnosis of the disease. This work is carried out at the ULB Center for Diabetes Research, which provides an ideal environment, with a strong focus on type 1 diabetes, as well as obesity and type 2 diabetes. A close collaboration exists between our Laboratory, the Laboratory of Experimental Gastroenterology and the Endocrine Division/Diabetes Unit of the Erasmus Hospital. This provides opportunities for interactions between researchers and clinicians and promotes translational research. We aim to make a difference to the millions of sufferers of diabetes by providing insights into ways that diabetes can be detected and treated.


Honours & Awards

  • 2018G.B. Morgagni Young Investigator Silver Medal Award

  • 2018JMB Career Advancement Initiative

  • 2017EFSD/JDRF/Lilly European Programme in Type 1 Diabetes Research. European Foundation for the Study of Diabetes (EFSD, PI)

  • 2017Future Research Leaders Program. Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF)

  • 2017-2021Project Grant. National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC, co-PI)

  • 2016Chercheur Qualifié. Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique (FNRS)

  • 2016Transition Award. JDRF International (PI)

  • 2014-2016New Investigator Project Grant. National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC, PI)

    2014Australasian Pancreatic Club Travel Award

  • 2014DART grant. Diabetes Australia (PI)

  • 2013-2016Advanced Postdoctoral Fellowship. Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF)

  • 2012Paula and Jack Hansky Prize for Research Excellence (Monash Obesity and Diabetes Institute)

  • 2009-2011Long-Term Postdoctoral Fellowship. European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO)

  • 2009Sanofi-Aventis Diabetes Award (Belgium/Luxembourg)

  • 2009Albert Renold Fellowship. European Foundation for the Study of Diabetes (EFSD)

  • 2008-2009Postdoctoral Fellowship. Federal Science Policy Office (FSPO, Belgium)

  • 2005-2007PhD Scholarship. FPI Comunidad de Madrid (Spain)

  • 2003-2004PhD Scholarship. Fundación Carolina. Ministry of Foreign Affaires (Spain)

Selected Publications

  1. Litwak SA, Pang L, Galic S, Igoillo-Esteve M, Stanley WJ, Turatsinze JV, Loh K, Thomas HE, Sharma A, Trepo E, Moreno C, Gough DJ, Eizirik DL, de Haan JB, Gurzov EN (2017). JNK Activation of BIM Promotes Hepatic Oxidative Stress, Steatosis and Insulin Resistance in Obesity. Diabetes 66:2973-2986. (IF:8.6)
  2. Loh K, Shi YC, Walters S, Bensellam M, Lee K, Dezaki K, Nakata M, Ip CK, Chan JY, Gurzov EN, Thomas HE, Waibel M, Cantley J, Kay TW, Yada T, Laybutt DR, Grey ST, Herzog H (2017). Inhibition of Y1 receptor signaling improves islet transplant outcome. Nature Communications 8(1):490. (IF:12.2)
  3. Stanley WJ, Litwak SA, Quah HS, Tan SM, Kay TW, Tiganis T, de Haan JB, Thomas HE, Gurzov EN (2015). Inactivation of protein tyrosine phosphatases enhances interferon signaling in pancreatic islets. Diabetes 64(9):2489-2496. (IF:8.6)
  4. Gurzov EN, Stanley WJ, Brodnicki TC, Thomas HE (2015). Protein tyrosine phosphatases: molecular switches in metabolism and diabetes. Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism 26(1):30-39. (IF:10.8)
  5. Gurzov EN, Tran M, Fernandez-Rojo M, Merry T, Zhang X, Xu Y, Fukushima A, Waters MJ, Watt M, Andrikopoulos S, Neel BG, Tiganis T (2014). Hepatic oxidative stress promotes insulin-STAT5 signaling and obesity by inactivating PTPN2. Cell Metabolism 20(1):85-102.  (IF:18.1)
  6. Gurzov EN, Barthson J, Marhfour I, Ortis F, Naamane N, Igoillo-Esteve M, Gysemans C, Mathieu C, Kitajima S, Marchetti P, Orntoft TF, Bakiri L, Wagner EF, Eizirik DL (2012). Pancreatic -cells activate a JunB/ATF3-dependent survival pathway during inflammation. Oncogene 31:1723-1732. (IF:7.5)
  7. Gurzov EN, Eizirik DL (2011). Bcl-2 proteins in diabetes: mitochondrial pathways of -cell death and dysfunction. Trends in Cell Biology 21(7):424-431. (IF:15.3)
  8. Barthson J, Germano CM, Moore F, Maida A, Drucker DJ, Marchetti P, Gysemans C, Mathieu C, Nuñez G, Jurisicova A, Eizirik DL, Gurzov EN (2011). Tumor necrosis factor-alpha and interferon-gamma induce pancreatic beta cell apoptosis through STAT1-mediated Bim activation. Journal of Biological Chemistry 286:39632-39643. (IF:4.1)
  9. Gurzov EN, Ortis F, Cunha DA, Gosset G, Li M, Cardozo AK, Eizirik DL (2009). Signaling by IL-1 + IFN- and ER stress converge on DP5/Hrk activation: a novel mechanism for pancreatic beta-cell apoptosis. Cell Death and Differentiation 16(11):1539-1550. (IF:8.3)
  10. Gurzov EN, Bakiri L, Alfaro JM, Wagner EF, Izquierdo M (2008). Targeting c-Jun and JunB proteins as potential anticancer cell therapy. Oncogene 27:641-652. (IF:7.5)