Research Excellence Honorees

Read about the inspiring individuals who have been recognized for excellence and innovation in diabetes research.

Thomas R. Lee Award

The Thomas R. Lee Career Development Award recognizes excellence in diabetes research and is given to the American Diabetes Association’s Career Development Award recipient who receives the highest priority score on a grant application in a given fiscal year. This award signifies the Association’s belief that the recipient will continue to be a premier researcher who will have great impact in diabetes treatment, prevention, and in the search for a cure.

This award is fully funded by the Estate of Mr. Thomas R. Lee of Norfolk, Virginia who for most of his life was a successful land owner and property developer in and around his beloved hometown of Norfolk. Known by all for his skilled business sense, dedication to friends and tremendous kindness to others, he generously supported the causes for which he was most passionate. Inspired by his personal battle with diabetes, Mr. Lee dedicated a portion of his estate as a charitable donation to the American Diabetes Association upon his death.

For 2014, there are two recipients of the Thomas R. Lee Career Development Award: 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.

The 2013 Thomas R. Lee Career Development Award recipient was Ana Quinones, PhD from Oregon Health and Sciences University. Her work entitled, "Complex chronic care needs of older minorities with Diabetes Mellitus", examines how to provide a better way to track the needs of older minorities with type 2 diabetes, who manage their daily lives with additional chronic illnesses.

Archive of Past Recipients

Gail Patrick Innovation Award

In honor of Gail Patrick, the first National Chair of the Association's Board of Directors and legendary Motion Picture actress, this award is granted to Innovation award applications to the Association that receive the highest priority score in a given year. Awardees receive $50,000 per year for two years to support an innovative idea that advances the Association’s efforts to prevent, treat and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by the disease.

The 2014 recipient of the Gail Patrick Innovation Award is Nicholas Mellen, PhD, from the University of Louisville. His project, 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.

The 2013 winner of the Gail Patrick Innovation Award is Ian Sweet, PhD from University of Washington. His project entitled, "Role of cytochrome c translocation in insulin release", will test whether the movement of cytochrome c is necessary and sufficient to stimulate insulin secretion in the face of elevated calcium signaling.

Archive of Past Recipients

  • Last Reviewed: October 17, 2013
  • Last Edited: October 24, 2014

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