Director BioTechMed-Graz

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Em.Univ.-Prof. Dr.phil. Rudolf Zechner



Mozartgasse 12
8010 Graz
Tel.: +43 316 380 – 5028
Fax: +43 316 380 9016
E-mail: rudolf.zechner(at)


Prof. Zechner‘s research focuses on lipolysis, the biochemical pathway responsible for the enzymatic breakdown of lipids. He and his team discovered a new enzyme (Adipose Triglyceride Lipase), which is responsible for the initial step in the degradation of cellular fat stores. This finding has revised the existing doctrine and led to a completely new understanding of this central metabolic pathway. The current work of Prof. Zechner’s team focuses on molecular mechanisms how lipolysis affects the pathogenesis of obesity and associated diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer.
Prof. Zechner has coordinated numerous major projects, such as the SFB Biomembranes (1997-2006), SFB LIPOTOX (2007-2017) and the GEN-AU project Genomics of Lipid-associated Disorders (GOLD) (2002-2012). Internationally renowned journals like Science, Nature Medicine or Cell Metabolims have frequently published his work. His scientific achievements have won various prestigious awards, such as the Wittgenstein-Preis, an ERC Advanced Grant, the Louis-Jeantet Price for Medicine or the Rolf Luft Award for metabolism and diabetes research. In 2019 he was elected as foreign associate to the National Academy of Sciences in recognition of his distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.

Curriculum Vitae
since 2016 Director of BioTechMed-Graz
since 2000 Professor of Biochemistry, Institute of Molecular Biosciences, University of Graz, Austria
2019-2021 Einstein BIH Visiting Fellowship, Stiftung Charité
1998-1999 Professor of Biochemistry, Chairman of the Institute of Biochemistry, University of Graz, Austria
1994-1998 Head of the Section of Molecular Biology, Institute of Medical Biochemistry, University of Graz, Austria
1990-1998 Associate Professor, Institute of Medical Biochemistry, University of Graz, Austria
1990 Habilitation in Biochemistry, Institute of Medical Biochemistry, University of Graz, Austria
1987-1990 University Assistant, Institute of Medical Biochemistry, University of Graz, Austria
1985-1987 Research Associate, Laboratory of Biochemical Genetics and Metabolism, The Rockefeller University, New York, USA
1980-1984 University Assistant, Institute of Medical Biochemistry, University of Graz, Austria
July 1980 Ph.D. Graduation in Chemistry, University of Graz, Austria
1972-1980        University education in General Chemistry, University of Graz, Austria

Honors and Awards
2019 Foreign Associate of the National Academy of Sciences, NAS, USA
2018 Rolf Luft Award, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Schweden
2015 Louis Jeantet Award for Medicine 2015, Foundation Louis Jeantet
2014 Richard Havel Award Lecture, given during the Deuel Lipid Conference, San Diego, CA, USA, Deuel Conference Organisation
2013 ERC Advanced Grant, European Research Council
2013 Research Award, Land Steiermark
2012 DeWitt S. Goodman Lectureship, Columbia University, New York, USA
2012 Van Deenen Lecture at the International Conference on the Bioscience of Lipids and the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Banff, Canada, American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
2012 Kardinal Innitzer Research Awards, Kardinal Innitzer Studienfonds
2011 The Journal of Lipid Research Lectureship Award at the Kern Lipid Conference, Vail, Colorado, USA, Journal of Lipid Research
2009 European Lipid Science Award, European Federation for the Science and Technology of Lipids
2007 Wittgenstein-Preis, Wissenschaftsministerium + FWF (Österreich)
1996 Hoechst Preis, Hoechst
1990 Young Scientist Research Award of the Province of Styria, Land Steiermark
1990 Kuner-Science Award, Unilever
1986 Erwin-Schroedinger Stipendium, Austrian Science Fond, FWF
1985 Max-Kade Fellowship, Max Kade Foundation, New York, USA

Relevant positions within the academic community

since 2019 Member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Forum Alpbach, Austria
since 2019 Member of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Leducq Foundation, Paris, France

since 2015

Member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Metabolic Research Laboratories, University of Cambridge, UK
2015-2017 Member of the Senate of the Christian Doppler Forschungsgesellschaft, Austria
since 2013 Member of the European Research Council Expert Panel LS4: Physiology, pathophysiology and endocrinology
since 2013 European Coordinator of the Research Consortium: Triglyceride Metabolism in Obesity and Cardiovascular Disease, funded by the Transatlantic Networks of Excellence Program of the Fondation LeDucq,
France & USA
since 2013 Member of the International Peer review Panel for the Danish Council of Independent Research of the Danish Ministry for Higher Education and Science
since 2010 Member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences
since 2007 Coordinator of the program project grants "SFB LIPOTOX
2008-2012 Member of the Steering Committee and the Scientific Advisory Board of Joanneum Research, Graz, Austria

Project Director of the Ministry of Science-funded Austrian Program Project Grant GEN-AU "GOLD – Genomics of Lipid-associated Disorders".

2008-2011 Member of the Executive Committee of the European Atherosclerosis Society

Corresponding member of the Austrian Academy of Science

1997-2006 Program Director of the FWF-funded Austrian Program Project Grant "SFB Biomembranes”
1999-2002 Vice President of the Austrian Atherosclerosis Society

Editorial Functions
since 2014 Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism, Member of the Editorial Board
since 2012 Cell Metabolism, Member of the Editorial Board
since 2012 Journal of Clinical Investigation, Member of the Editorial Board
since 2012 Molecular Metabolism, Topic Editor
since 2010 BBA-Molecular and Cellular Biology of Lipids, Executive Editor
since 2004 Journal of Lipid Research, Member of the Editorial Board
2005-2012 Atherosclerosis, Member of the Editorial Board
Current Research Grants
01/04/2019- 30/03/2024 FWF DOC50, Doktoratskolleg (PhD program) Molecular Metabolism
01/03/2019 - 28/02/2023 FWF F73, SFB LIPID HYDROLYSIS: Cellular lipid degradation pathways in health and disease; additional funding by City of Graz and Province of Styria
01/04/2014 - 31/03/2019 ERC Advanced Grant: The Role of Lipolysis in the Pathogenesis of Cancer-associated Cachexia,
01/01/2013 - 31/12/2017 TNT - Triglyceride Metabolism in Obesity and Cardiovascular Disease - Foundation Leducq
01/04/2007 - 31/12/2017 FWF F30, SFB LIPOTOX: Lipases and the control of energy balance, insulin resistance, and lipotoxicity; additional funding by City of Graz and Province of Styria
01/01/2005 - 31/12/2017 FWF W901, Doktoratskolleg (PhD program) Molecular Enzymology

Selected Publications

  • Schweiger M, Romauch M, Schreiber R, Grabner GF, Hutter S, Kotzbeck P, Benedikt P, Eichmann TO, Yamada S; Knittelfelder O; Diwoky, C; Doler C; Mayer N; De Cecco W; Breinbauer R; Zimmermann R, Zechner R (2017) Pharmacological inhibition of adipose triglyceride lipase corrects high-fat diet-induced insulin resistance and hepatosteatosis in mice. Nature Communications. 8.
  • Schreiber R, Hofer P, Taschler U, Voshol PJ, Rechberger GN, Kotzbeck P, Jaeger D, Preiss-Landl K, Lord CC, Brown JM, Haemmerle G, Zimmermann R, Vidal-Puig A, Zechner R (2015) Hypophagia and metabolic adaptations in mice with defective ATGL-mediated lipolysis cause resistance to HFD-induced obesity. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 112, 13850-13855.
  • Heier C, Radner FP, Moustafa T, Schreiber R, Grond S, Eichmann TO, Schweiger M, Schmidt A, Cerk IK, Oberer M, Theussl HC, Wojciechowski J, Penninger JM, Zimmermann R, Zechner R (2015) G0/G1 Switch Gene 2 Regulates Cardiac Lipolysis. J BiolChem. 290, 26141-26150.
  • Zechner R (2015) FAT FLUX: enzymes, regulators, and pathophysiology of intracellular lipolysis. EMBO Mol Med. 7, 359-62. Review
  • Folick A, Oakley HD, Yu Y, Armstrong EH, Kumari M, Sanor L, Moore DD, Ortlund EA, Zechner R, Wang MC (2015) Aging. Lysosomal signaling molecules regulate longevity in Caenorhabditis elegans. Science. 347, 83-86.
  • Mayer N, Schweiger M, Romauch M, Grabner GF, Eichmann TO, Fuchs E, Ivkovic J, Heier C, Mrak I, Lass A, Höfler G, Fledelius C, Zechner R, Zimmermann R, Breinbauer R (2013) Development of small-molecule inhibitors targeting adipose triglyceride lipase. Nat Chem Biol. 9, 785-787.
  • Kumari M, Schoiswohl G, Chitraju C, Paar M, Cornaciu I, Rangrez AY, Wongsiriroj N, Nagy HM, Ivanova PT, Scott SA, Knittelfelder O, Rechberger GN, Birner-Gruenberger R, Eder S, Brown HA, Haemmerle G, Oberer M, Lass A, Kershaw EE, Zimmermann R, Zechner R (2012) Adiponutrin functions as a nutritionally regulated lysophosphatidic acid acyltransferase. Cell Metab. 15, 691-702.
  • Haemmerle G, Moustafa T, Woelkart G, Buttner S, Schmidt  A, van de WeijerT, Hesselink M, Jaeger D, Kienesberger PC, Zierler K, Schreiber R, EichmannT, KolbD, Kotzbeck P, Schweiger  M, Kumari M, Eder S, Schoiswohl G, Wongsiriroj N, Pollak NM, Radner FP, Preiss-Landl K, Kolbe T, Rulicke T, Pieske B, Trauner M, Lass A, Zimmermann R, Hoefler G, Cinti S, Kershaw EE, Schrauwen P, Madeo F, Mayer B, Zechner R (2011) ATGL-mediated fat catabolism regulates cardiac mitochondrial function via PPAR-alpha and PGC-1. Nat Med. 17, 1076-85
  • Das SK, Eder S, Schauer S, Diwoky C, Temmel H, Guertl B, Gorkiewicz G, Tamilarasan KP, Kumari P, Trauner M, Zimmermann R, Vesely P, Haemmerle G, Zechner R, Hoefler G (2011) Adipose triglyceride lipase contributes to cancer-associated cachexia. Science. 333, 233-8.
  • Zechner R, Madeo F (2009) Cell biology: Another way to get rid of fat. Nature. 458, 1118-9. Editorial
  • Lass A, Zimmermann R, Haemmerle G, Riederer M, Schoiswohl G, Schweiger M, Kienesberger P, Strauss J G, Gorkiewicz G, Zechner R (2006) Adipose triglyceride lipase-mediated lipolysis of cellular fat stores is activated by CGI-58 and defective in Chanarin-Dorfman Syndrome. Cell Metab. 3, 309-19.
  • Haemmerle G, Lass A, Zimmermann R, Gorkiewicz G, Meyer C, Rozman J, Heldmaier G, Maier R, Theussl C, Eder S, Kratky D, Wagner EF, Klingenspor M, Hoefler G & Zechner R (2006). Defective lipolysis and altered energy metabolism in mice lacking adipose triglyceride lipase. Science. 312, 734-7.
  • Zimmermann R, Strauss JG, Haemmerle G, Schoiswohl G, Birner-Gruenberger R, Riederer M, Lass A, Neuberger G, Eisenhaber F, Hermetter A, Zechner R (2004) Fat mobilization in adipose tissue is promoted by adipose triglyceride lipase. Science. 306, 1383-6.          

All Publications

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Cooperating partners

 Universität Graz  TU Graz  Med-Uni Graz 

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BioTechMed-Graz Coordination Office

Mozartgasse 12/II
8010 Graz

Mobile:+43 664 30 10 141

Mag. Julia Rohrer

Phone:+43 316 380 - 5022

Margit List-Schleich, MA

Phone:+43 316 380 - 5020

MMag. Christina Prix

Phone:+43 316 380 - 5022
In maternity leave

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