C. Ronald Kahn, M.D., Mary K. Iacocca Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and head of the Head Section on Obesity and Hormone Action at the Joslin Diabetes Center, has been named the first winner of the Manpei Suzuki International Prize for Diabetes Research.
“Joslin Diabetes Center is delighted that one of our world-renowned researchers has been named the inaugural winner of such a prestigious award,” said Ranch C. Kimball, President and CEO of Joslin. “Dr. Kahn epitomizes the spirit, perseverance and creativity held by all Joslin researchers that is needed to make the scientific advancements toward preventing and ultimately curing diabetes.”
According to the Manpei Suzuki Diabetes Foundation, Kahn was selected to receive the inaugural award in recognition of his many contributions to diabetes research over the past three decades – from the discovery of the basic mechanism for how insulin receptors produce a signal in cells to increase their metabolism, to alterations in this signaling process in diabetes and other disease states. He has also generated multiple strains of mice genetically altered in insulin signaling in order to analyze insulin action one tissue and pathway at a time. Kahn’s work has had an enormous impact on the understanding of the mechanism of insulin action and insulin resistance, processes that are fundamental to the worldwide diabetes epidemic.
“I am truly honored to be recognized for this prize as my lab and I to continue to pursue new frontiers in diabetes and obesity research,” said Kahn.
Kahn will be formally presented with the award, which includes $150,000, at a ceremony in Tokyo on March 10, 2009 where he will also deliver a commemorative lecture.
The newly established award, the largest for diabetes research and one of the largest in medicine, commemorates the 15th anniversary of the Manpei Suzuki Diabetes Foundation, which supports diabetes research through both grants and fellowships. According to the Foundation’s web site, the International Prize acknowledges individuals for “their original and excellent achievements in diabetes research” and aims “to advance diabetes research that will contribute to the health and welfare of all people.”
An internationally recognized researcher, Kahn was educated at University of Louisville and trained at Washington University and the National Institutes of Health, where he ultimately served as the Section Head of Cellular and Molecular Physiology of the Diabetes Branch. In 1981, C. Ronald Kahn came to Harvard Medical School and the Joslin Diabetes Center. He served as Research Director of Joslin from 1981 to 2000, Executive Vice President from 1997 to 2000, and President and Director from 2000 to 2007. In 1984, he was promoted to Professor of Medicine at Harvard, and in 1986 he was awarded the Mary K. Iacocca Professorship. In 2007, he was named Vice Chair of the Joslin Board of Trustees.
Kahn has received the highest scientific awards of the American Diabetes Association, U.S. Endocrine Society, British Diabetes and Endocrine Societies, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, International Diabetes Federation and American Federation for Clinical Research, as well as many other honors, including election to the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine. He chaired the congressionally established Diabetes Research Working Group which developed the plan that resulted in a more than doubling of diabetes research efforts in the U.S. He also holds honorary doctorates from the Universities of Paris, Louisville and Geneva and an honorary professorship from Peking University.