BOSTON — (November 12, 2014)— Dr. Robert G. Spiro has been awarded the Joslin Diabetes Center Lifetime Achievement Award for his significant contributions to the fight against diabetes. This award goes to people who have had profound influence on the Joslin Diabetes Center in its ongoing efforts in the prevention and treatment of diabetes. 

Dr. Spiro joined the Joslin faculty in 1961 and established the Glycoproteins and Biomembranes research laboratory, where he discovered links between diabetes and chronic kidney diseases.  His early research on glycoproteins became the primary scientific backing for the importance of maintaining a tight grasp on one’s blood sugar levels, which is now among the most fundamental components of diabetes care. Joslin’s CEO and President John L. Brooks III extended a “hardy thank you” on behalf of the staff at Joslin, “The Lifetime Achievement Award is one that recognizes people who have made a huge impact on our organization and Dr. Spiro is certainly one of them.”

Donna Younger, M.D., Senior Physician at the Adult Clinic at Joslin, who was the first of four recipients to receive this award, said Dr. Spiro, “turned the scientific tide” when scientists and doctors struggled to prove to people in academic medicine that diabetes was a serious condition worthy of attention. 

In addition to his many research achievements, Dr. Spiro, who is 85 is proud to have managed his diabetes without any complications for sixty years after diagnosing himself with type 1 diabetes in his final year of medical school. He says his decades of good health would not have been possible without the help of his wife, Mary Jane, and “the distinguished group of physicians,” including those at Joslin, who have surrounded him throughout the years. In 2004 he established the Robert Spiro M.D. Endowed Campership Fund, which provides financial assistance for children to attend Elliott P. Joslin Camping programs. 

Dr. Spiro earned his medical degree from SUNY Upstate Medical University in 1954, then moved on to do his fellowship at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. He came to Joslin in 1961, and has since earned several esteemed awards, such as the Claude Bernard Medal from the European Association for the Study of Diabetes in 1975. 

“It was a great ride and I greatly enjoyed it, and Joslin made my experience wonderful,” reflected Dr. Spiro. “Both Mary Jane and I enjoyed every minute of it. And right in this room there are colleagues and friends which I very much cherish and I’m extremely grateful.”