Yesterday, the first Harold Hamm Prize for Biomedical Research in Diabetes celebrated the achievements of Peter H. Bennett, Scientist Emeritus of the NIDDK. I tried to tweet his accomplishments during his award lecture yesterday, but it proved an overwhelming task. After all, this rheumatologist ended up in Phoenix performing the first longitudinal studies of type 2 (formerly known as adult-onset) diabetes among the Pima Indians. His achievements include developing the international criteria for diagnosis of diabetes and its association with obesity and inactivity. He established the role of insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes, and other studies demonstrated the poor outcomes of diabetic pregnancies. His studies led to our current model of the onset of diabetes shown in the figure.
He also tracked the relationship between hyperglycemia and complications of diabetes. In particular, his work established the importance of proteinuria in these patients. The excess mortality of type 2 diabetes occurs in those patients with proteinuria and chronic kidney disease. If you avoid kidney issues, your life span will be similar to someone without diabetes!
So what is the prize for this lifetime of amazing clinical science? A large, blingy, 14kt medal and (oh, yeah) $250,000. Yup, this is a MAJOR award. Of course, a major award must come from a major donor:
Mr. Harold Hamm is chairman and chief executive officer of Continental Resources, Inc., one of the largest independent oil producers in the United States. Having type 2 diabetes himself, Hamm is the lead benefactor of the Harold Hamm Diabetes Center at the University of Oklahoma and provided for an endowment to fund the prize in perpetuity.
The prize will be given every 2 years. A distinguished jury chosen from the diabetes research community will choose the winner. Each jury member will nominate two investigators. Applications are not accepted. This year's members included
- John Buse, M.D., Ph.D., CDE - University of North Carolina School of Medicine
- Edwin Gale, M.D. - University of Bristol, United Kingdom
- Barbara Howard, Ph.D. – MedStar Health Research Institute
- Paul Robertson, M.D. – University of Washington
- Charles Stanley, M.D. - University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine
This year's jury picked a perfect winner. His talk is Storified below:
Click here for more information about the Harold Hamm Prize.