Joslin President awarded medal from international diabetes organization

09/10/04

BOSTON - C. Ronald Kahn, M.D., President and Director of Joslin Diabetes Center, has been awarded the 2004 Claude Bernard Medal by the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) at the organization's 40th Annual Meeting in Munich, Germany. This prestigious award recognizes innovative leadership and superior contributions in the field of diabetes research and is the highest scientific honor awarded by the EASD. Dr. Kahn also is the Mary K. Iacocca Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

As part of the honor, Dr. Kahn presented the distinguished Claude Bernard Lecture, considered to be the highlight of the weeklong EASD annual meeting, which was held Sept. 5-9. Dr. Kahn discussed how communication between the brain and tissues of the body relates to the pathogenesis of diabetes. Dr. Ele Ferrannini, the president of the EASD, presented Dr. Kahn with the Claude Bernard Medal immediately following his lecture on the final day of the meeting, Sept. 9.

Over the past three decades, the research of Dr. Kahn has literally defined the field of insulin signal transduction and mechanisms of altered signaling in disease. In 1981, Dr. Kahn's laboratory discovered that the insulin receptor is an insulin-stimulated enzyme with protein tyrosine kinase activity. His laboratory also demonstrated how insulin signaling is altered in insulin-resistant states, such as type 2 diabetes and obesity; the impact of genetics and environment on these signaling functions; and how knowledge gleaned from these studies can be translated into new treatment methods for people with diabetes.

In recent studies, Dr. Kahn and his colleagues have conducted a series of studies using genetically engineered mice with knocked out insulin receptors in classical target tissues, such as liver, muscle and fat. These experiments indicated the important link between obesity, diabetes and longevity. Using these techniques, Dr. Kahn and colleagues in Germany were also the first to demonstrate a biochemical link between insulin resistance and Alzheimer's disease. Dr. Kahn's laboratory also has major interest in adipocyte (fat cell) biology, an important area of obesity research. He is also the leader the Diabetes Genome Anatomy Project, a consortium of institutions involved in the use of DNA chips and proteomic techniques to study diabetes.

A native of Louisville, Kentucky, Dr. Kahn received his undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Louisville. After training in internal medicine at Washington University, he worked at the National Institutes of Health for 11 years. There he rose to become the Head of the Section on Cellular and Molecular Physiology of the Diabetes Branch of NIH's National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Dr. Kahn moved to Boston in 1981 to become Research Director of Joslin Diabetes Center and Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He was named full professor in 1984. Dr. Kahn was appointed President and Director of Joslin Diabetes Center in 2000.

Dr. Kahn has been the recipient of numerous awards during his distinguished career, including the top research honors from the American Diabetes Association, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the Endocrine Society. In 1998, Dr. Kahn chaired the Diabetes Research Working Group, which was mandated by Congress to develop a strategic plan for diabetes research for the entire U.S. He is the author of more than 400 peer-reviewed articles and today serves on the editorial boards of a number of distinguished journals including the Journal of Clinical Investigation, Endocrine Reviews, and the American Journal of Physiology. He was elected to the National Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1991, became a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1994 and was elected to both the National Academy of Science and the Institute of Medicine in 1999. He is scheduled to receive the Bristol-Myers Squibb Metabolic Research Award for his pioneering research on insulin action, signaling and resistance on Oct. 14 in New York City.

The EASD was founded in Montecatini, Italy, in1965 by Dr. Joseph Hoet, the Founding President. The organization has a membership of more than 5,500 physicians, scientists, nurses and students from over 100 countries who work in the field of diabetes research. The association works to find innovative research concepts that will both encourage and support new ideas and put them into practice in research labs across the globe.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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