Research Excellence Honorees
Read about the inspiring individuals who have been recognized for excellence and innovation in diabetes research.
Thomas R. Lee Career Developoment Award
The American Diabetes Association established the Thomas R. Lee Career Development Award, granted annually, to recognize the highest scoring Career Development Award applicant. Awardees receive $172,500 per year for five years to advance their research careers as young, independent diabetes investigators.
Thomas R. Lee was born in 1909 to a family of hardworking farmers in Norfolk, Virginia. He was a skilled business man and property developer who demonstrated tremendous kindness to others and generously supported the causes for which he was most passionate. Inspired by his personal sense of philanthropy and his own battle with diabetes, he donated a charitable portion of his estate to the American Diabetes Association.
The 2015 Thomas R. Lee Award recipient is Shaodong Guo, PhD, from Texas A&M University. Dr. Guo's grant, "Control of Liver Fibrosis and Failure by Insulin Resistance and FoxO Signaling," is investigating how insulin resistance leads to liver fibrosis and liver failure. The project sets out to test whether the insulin-suppressed transcription factor FoxO1 is one of the mediators controlling liver fibrosis and whether it could serve as a new target for drug development to treat type 2 diabetes-associated liver dysfunction.
The 2014 Thomas R. Lee Career Development Award recipients were Julio Ayala, PhD, from Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute in Orlando, Florida and Andrea Steck, MD, from the University of Colorado Denver. Dr. Ayala's project, Anorectic Mechanisms of Glp1-Receptor Agonists, will examine the differences between existing drugs that target Glp1 receptors. While both treat diabetes, one causes weight loss and the other does not. Dr. Ayala hopes to better understand ways to treat obesity, thereby reducing risk for type 2 diabetes, through determining the difference between how these two drug types work. Dr. Steck's project, Determinants of Rate of Progression to Type 1 Diabetes, will evaluate the factors that determine risk for diabetes and the actual rate of progression to type 1 diabetes among high-risk TrialNet study participants.
Gail Patrick Innovation Award
The Gail Patrick Innovation Award is granted annually to the highest scoring Innovation Award applicant. Awardees receive $50,000 per year for two years to support pursuit of an innovative idea that advances the American Diabetes Association's efforts to prevent, treat and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by the disease.
Gail Patrick was one of the first non-physicians elected to the American Diabetes Association Board of Directors. A person with type 1 diabetes, she led an active life. She was a movie star and producer of the Perry Mason television series. In 1973, she became the first Chair of the American Diabetes Association Board and successfully led the organization through its transition into a successful voluntary health agency.
The 2015 recipient of the Gail Patrick Innovation Award is Wang Wang, MD, PhD, from the University of Washington. Dr. Wang's project, titled "Source and Sites of Action of Hydrogen Peroxide in Mitochondria and Cytosol of Pancreatic Islets," focuses on innovative imaging studies to examine the mechanism by which hydrogen peroxide stimulates insulin secretion and whether this mechanism is disrupted in type 2 diabetes, where beta cells fail to compensate for insulin resistance. The results may define new therapeutic targets and treatments to ameliorate type 2 diabetes symptoms and complications.
The 2014 winner of the Gail Patrick Innovation Award was Nicholas Mellen, PhD, from the University of Louisville. His project titled, Elucidating Mesoscopic Features of Diabetic Cardiomyopahty via Calcium Imaging and Optogenetics, aims to develop a way to monitor calcium movement using light. Dr. Mellen hopes to apply this technology to learn about differences in heart tissue calcium fluctuations between people with diabetes and those without, which is important to better understanding cardiovascular complications of diabetes.