Prize Winners at the 52nd EASD Annual Meeting 2016

The EASD Annual Meeting saw the presentation of several major prizes and research fellowships. In this section we introduce you to the distinguished recipients, providing an overview of their work, alongside details of the prizes themselves.

Claude Bernard Lectureship

The Claude Bernard Lectureship is the EASD’s highest honour. This medal and lectureship is given to individuals in recognition of their innovative leadership and lifetime achievements within the sphere of diabetes research. As briefly mentioned previously in this issue, this honour was bestowed upon Prof Mark Cooper, the first Australian recipient in the prize’s history. Prof Cooper has made a number of notable discoveries over the course of his career, with his early investigations playing a vital role in establishing the protective effects of drugs which interrupt the renin-angiotensin system. More recently, his research has delved into metabolic memory and its epigenetic origins. The key findings of this area of study contribute to the irreversible legacy of vascular damage seen in some patients with long-term Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) as well as partly explaining the ‘legacy’ of benefits that result from better glucose control in diabetic patients.

Shortly before his presentation ‘Uncomplicating diabetes: interactions between metabolic and haemodynamic signalling pathways in the pathogenesis of diabetic complications’, Prof Juleen Zierath, President of the EASD, presented Prof Cooper with his prestigious award.

Camillo Golgi Prize

Presented in honour of Camillo Golgi (1843–1926), winner of the Nobel Prize in 1906 for his work on the nervous system and kidney physiology, the EASD Camillo Golgi Prize is awarded to a member of the EASD, typically resident in Europe, for exceptional contributions to the field of histopathology, pathogenesis, prevention, and treatment of the complications of diabetes mellitus. This year’s award was graciously received by Prof Peter Rossing, Denmark, in recognition of his research in diabetic nephropathy, and his discovery and development of several associated biomarkers, now enabling individual risk to be predicted. Notably, Prof Rossing has provided evidence that a reduction in urinary albumin excretion after the onset of antihypertensive therapy in diabetic nephropathy is the most accurate indicator of successful treatment outcomes. Drawing on his vast range of work, Prof Rossing gave the 31st Camillo Golgi Lecture on the subject of ‘Personalising prevention of diabetic nephropathy, from proteinuria to profile-omics.’

Albert Renold Prize

Prof Michael S. German, USA, scooped the Albert Renold Prize, commemorating Albert Renold (1923–88), the esteemed diabetologist and researcher, and one of the founding fathers of the EASD, previously serving as both Honorary Secretary (1965–69) and President (1974–77). The prize honours superlative work that has advanced knowledge on the islets of Langerhans. Giving the 10th Albert Renold lecture, Prof German spoke on ‘Balancing beta cell mass: generation, degeneration and regeneration’. Alongside balancing a busy schedule treating patients at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Diabetes Clinic and hospital wards, lecturing at the UCSF Diabetes Center’s patient self-management training courses, and teaching medical students, Prof German maintains a research laboratory currently investigating diabetes development at the most fundamental level. The pancreatic beta cell is the central pillar of German’s research programme, with a special focus on the genes that control the differentiation of beta cells from stem cells. He additionally studies where these processes break down in diabetes, and how our understanding of the beta cell can be developed into new methods for treating and curing diabetes in the future.

EASD/NOVO Nordish Foundation Diabetes Prize for Excellence

Presented for the first time in 2015, this year the EASD/NOVO NORDISH Foundation Diabetes Prize for Excellence was awarded to Prof Andrew Hattersley, UK, in recognition of his world-leading research into genetic forms of diabetes. He has compiled an extensive body of work across both molecular and clinical science research, and has recently led work to define subtypes in both T1 and T2DM. Indeed, Prof Hattersley and colleagues from the University of Exeter have pinpointed the specifically altered bases for 15 different diabetes subtypes, out of 3 billion possibilities. Determining these genetic causes has enabled the definition of new diabetes subtypes leading to great strides in clinical care with a precision medicine approach now possible. Alongside Sian Ellard, he has transformed the University of Exeter from a centre without a genetics laboratory in 1995, to its position as the number one international laboratory for monogenetic diabetes, with over 10,000 referrals from >85 countries. Upon learning of his success, a delighted Prof Hattersley commented in a University of Exeter newsletter: “It is a great honour to receive this prestigious award. I have been very lucky to work with superb colleagues in Exeter over the past 21 years. This award recognises their outstanding efforts as much as my own. It has been very exciting to see the science of gene discovery have a direct impact on patient care.”

This particular prize recognises a globally noted researcher who has made a significant contribution to the understanding of diabetes and/or its treatment. Accompanying the prize, £685,000 is awarded, £114,000 of which is personal, making it the world’s greatest personal diabetes-related award. Prof Hattersley announced he would share the financial reward with his colleagues at Exeter. Following receipt, Prof Hattersley delivered a keynote lecture on ‘Defining heterogeneity in diabetes to improve clinical care.’

Minkowski Prize

The Minkowski Prize is presented in memory of Oskar Minkowski (1858–1931) who in 1889, extirpated the pancreases of dogs and found that they then developed diabetes. Awarded to those <45 years of age for exceptional work that has expanded our understanding of diabetes mellitus, it is widely considered the most renowned European diabetes research award for young scientists, and is accompanied by a reward of €20,000. This year, Prof Patrick Schrauwen, Netherlands, became the second Dutch winner of this prestigious award.

Prof Schrauwen and his team have delivered key insights into the relationship between mitochondrial function and ectopic fat storage in muscle, and insulin resistance. One of the first to prove that mitochondrial function is not only compromised in patients with overt T2DM, but also in those with pre-diabetes, he has published >200 papers. Prof Schrauwen has utilised cutting-edge methodologies to highlight how exercise training can lead to improvements in insulin sensitivity and mitochondrial function, and was the first to demonstrate that resveratrol facilitates an increase in mitochondrial function and an improvement of metabolic health in obesity. Schrawen’s latest work has shown that 10 days of cold acclimation can significantly impact skeletal muscle insulin sensitivity in T2DM patients.

The recipient of the prize traditionally presents the Minkowski Lecture discussing their most meaningful and important scientific achievements. Prof Schrauwen elected to discourse on the topic: ‘Let’s energise: mitochondria and energy turnover to comBAT Type 2 diabetes.’

Rising Star Symposium

The Rising Star Symposium shines a spotlight on the future of diabetes research, uncovering the brightest and most innovative talents currently developing their research activities across Europe. The four selected candidates were invited by the EASD to give a synopsis of their past works and ongoing research activities as part of a multidisciplinary research symposium. Accompanying the award, recipients were bestowed a research fellowship of €30,000, intended to encourage innovative research, and payable to the recipient’s institution.

A list of the award winners and their respective lecture topics is provided below:

  • S Kooijam, Netherlands: Time to heat up: targeting brown adipose tissue
  • F D’Addio, Italy: B lymphocytes in Type 1 diabetes: destruction and regulation
  • NKA Sandholm, Finland: Genetic background of diabetic nephropathy in subjects with Type 1 diabetes
  • AG Jones, UK: Clinical insights from C-peptide measurement

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