Biennial prize for important diabetes breakthroughs is largest award of its kind in the world

BOSTON – (November 05, 2015) – The Harold Hamm Diabetes Center at the University of Oklahoma awarded C. Ronald Kahn, M.D., Chief Academic Officer and Senior Investigator at Joslin Diabetes Center and the Mary K. Iacocca Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, the Harold Hamm International Prize for Biomedical Research in Diabetes in a ceremony in Oklahoma City, OK. This award is given on the basis of scientific merit, recognizing a scientist who has made a significant breakthrough in the field of diabetes, with a special emphasis on progress towards a cure.

The prize was first awarded in 2013 and is seen as the Nobel Prize for diabetes research.

“This is truly a great honor,” said Dr. Kahn. “Being selected to receive this award recognizes not only my work and the work of my laboratory, but also the importance of basic research into the causes of diabetes, which ultimately will benefit people with this disease, and hopefully even prevent the disease from occurring in future generations.”

This prize is the largest of its kind in the world with a prize amount of $250,000 dollars. The prize is awarded biennially and the Hamm Prize Laureate is selected by a rotating jury of international leaders in the field of diabetes. 

The Hamm Prize is named for Mr. Harold Hamm, chairman and chief executive officer of Continental Resources, Inc., one of the largest independent oil producers in the U.S. 

“Dr. Kahn is one of the most accomplished medical researchers of our generation. His work in insulin signaling and insulin action laid the foundation on which thousands of researchers build their work today,” said Kenneth Copeland, M.D., Chairman of the Selection Jury and Pediatric Endocrinologist at Harold Hamm Diabetes Center. “Certainly, one day we hope to have a real cure for diabetes, and that cure will no doubt be as a result of the foundation Dr. Kahn’s research has laid.”

Along with the award, Dr. Kahn also delivered a plenary lecture focusing on gene and environmental interactions in diabetes and the metabolic syndrome.  

Dr. Kahn is a renowned investigator of insulin signal transduction and the mechanisms of altered signaling in disease. His laboratory discovered the insulin receptor kinase, its two primary substrates and the molecular components of the insulin-signaling network. He was the first to define alterations in the signaling network in type 2 diabetes, including the important role of insulin action in unexpected tissues such as brain, vascular endothelial cells and pancreatic beta-cells, linking insulin resistance to development of Alzheimer’s disease, atherosclerosis, as well as diabetes. He has published over 800 papers and is among the most highly cited scientists in the field.

In addition to his role as Chief Academic Officer at Joslin, Dr. Kahn is head of the Integrative Physiology and Metabolism section at Joslin. He serves as the Mary K. Iacocca Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, where he has been a member of the faculty since 1981 when he joined Joslin as Research Director. After two decades as Joslin’s Research Director, Dr. Kahn transitioned into the role of Joslin’s President from 2000 - 2007. Under his leadership, Joslin’s research grew more than 20-fold, and clinical and educational activity tripled. He was named the Center’s first Chief Academic Officer in January 2012, where he oversees faculty recruitment, appointments, and promotions at the center, which trains about 150 doctors and doctoral fellows a year.

“Dr. Kahn is an international leader in type 2 diabetes and obesity. His research has greatly increased our understanding of insulin signaling and resistance,” said Peter S. Amenta, M.D., Ph.D., President and CEO of Joslin Diabetes Center. “This wonderful award not only honors Dr. Kahn’s many contributions to diabetes research, but also brings much needed attention to the diabetes epidemic.”