Dr Alexander Tups

University Position

Senior Lecturer


Department of Physiology
Tel 64 3 479 4862
Fax 64 3 479 7323



The focus of our research is on the neuroendocrine regulation of metabolism. In particular we are interested in the central interaction of the adiposity hormones leptin and insulin, which appears crucial for the maintenance of energy and glucose homeostasis. We established that a loss of central leptin action during obesity leads to impaired insulin action, which might explain the striking correlation of obesity and type 2 diabetes.

  1. We investigate neuroendocrine mechanisms that link obesity, diabetes and Alzheimer's disease.
  2. We focus on manipulating these crucial pathways via nutritive, genetherapeutic and pharmacological approaches to potentially avoid the manifestation of nutrition related diseases.

Clinical conditions

Obesity, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, bipolar disorder, cancer

Technical expertise

Molecular Biology, Protein biochemistry, gene-therapy, nutritive interventions, metabolic characterizations


Alexander studied Biology at the Heinrich Heine University of Duesseldorf and the Philipps University of Marburg and completed a Diploma in Biology at the latter institution (Main subjects: Animal Physiology, Genetics and Developmental Biology). He then received a Marie Curie and Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds Scholarship to undertake a PhD at the Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen and the Philipps University of Marburg where he graduated with “summa cum laude” for investigating the neuroendocrine mechanism regulating seasonal body weight. He then worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Otago with Greg Anderson and Dave Grattan. In 2008 he was awarded one out of seven junior group leader grants in nutrition research by the German Ministry of Education and Research (€1,500,000) upon which he returned to the Philipps University of Marburg. He spent 6 years as junior group leader and Deputy Professor for Animal Physiology (since 2012) at this institution before he came back to the University of Otago as a Senior Lecturer in Physiology in 2014. Alex has published 25 research papers and has an H-index of 12. In 2014 he received the Ernst and Berta Sharrer Award of the German Society for Endocrinology.

Laboratory Staff
Research Fellow/Post-doc

Dr Mohammed Rizwan

Assistant Research Fellow

Alisa Boucsein

PhD Student

Aline Loehfelm

Nathan Skinner

Undergraduate Student

Patrick O'Regan

Selected Recent Publications

Benzler J, Ganjam GK, Pretz D, Oelkrug R, Koch CE, Legler K, Stöhr S, Culmsee C, Williams LM, Tups A. Central inhibition of IKKβ/NF-κB signaling attenuates high-fat diet-induced obesity and glucose intolerance. Diabetes. 2015 Jun;64(6):2015-27.

Koch CE, Lowe C, Pretz D, Steger J, Williams LM, Tups A. High-fat diet induces leptin resistance in leptin-deficient mice. J Neuroendocrinol. 2014 Feb; 26(2): 58-67.

Koch CE, Lowe C, Legler K, Benzler J, Boucsein A, Böttiger G, Grattan DR, Williams LM, Tups A. Central adiponectin acutely improves glucose tolerance in male mice. Endocrinology. 2014 May;155(5): 1806-16.

Benzler J, Andrews ZB, Pracht C, Stöhr S, Shepherd PR, Grattan DR, Tups A. Hypothalamic WNT signalling is impaired during obesity and reinstated by leptin treatment in male mice. Endocrinology. 2013 Dec; 154(12): 4737-45.

Koch C, Augustine RA, Steger J, Ganjam GK, Benzler J, Pracht C, Lowe C, Schwartz MW, Shepherd PR, Anderson GM, Grattan DR, Tups A. Leptin rapidly improves glucose homeostasis in obese mice by increasing hypothalamic insulin sensitivity. J Neurosci. 2010 Dec 1; 30(48): 16180-7.

Research Funded by

Project Grant by the German Research Foundation (DFG): 2014-2016

Centre for Neuroendocrinology Centre for Neuroendocrinology University of Otago