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News Release

Joslin Diabetes Center President C. Ronald Kahn, M.D., Plans to Step Down from Post to Pursue Research and Academic Career

Dr. Kahn to Serve as Vice Chairman of the Board

BOSTON — September 7, 2006 — Joslin Diabetes Center, global leader in diabetes research, care and education, announced today that C. Ronald Kahn, M.D., intends to step down as President to pursue his passion for research full time. Dr. Kahn will remain very active at Joslin as Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees.

Dr. Kahn will serve in his current capacity as President of the 108-year-old Harvard-affiliated institution and work closely with the Joslin Board while it conducts an international search for his successor.  Upon selection of Dr. Kahn’s successor, he will become Vice Chairman and focus on his research and academic affairs.  

“I have thoroughly enjoyed working with the Board, Joslin staff and our many wonderful volunteers over the last 10 years in my roles as both Executive Vice President and President,” said Dr. Kahn, the Mary K. Iacocca Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. “Now I want to fully devote myself to research, new challenges and finding a cure for diabetes.”

Dr. Kahn was named the sixth President of Joslin in 2000 and was appointed Executive Vice President in 1997. Under Dr. Kahn’s leadership, Joslin more than doubled its budget from $45 million to almost $100 million.  During his previous 16-year tenure as Joslin Research Director, the Center’s research program grew more than 12-fold.

"Ron never stands still, and his leadership of the Joslin reflects this, moving this tremendous jewel in the fight against diabetes forward significantly," says Harvard Medical School's Joseph B. Martin, M.D., Ph.D., Dean of the Harvard Faculty of Medicine. "Ron's decision to focus his attention full-time on diabetes research highlights the passion he has to find new therapies for this disease, as well as the knowledge that the Joslin is secure in its path."

During Dr. Kahn’s presidency, the institution launched the $100 million Campaign to Conquer Diabetes in All of its Forms, the largest campaign in the Center’s history. Joslin also opened its first international Affiliate in the Kingdom of Bahrain, where diabetes impacts more than 25 percent of the population.

Locally, Dr. Kahn secured a renewal of Joslin’s joint venture with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, which formally ties Joslin’s patient care activities to one of Harvard’s largest teaching hospitals.  Dr. Kahn also spearheaded an effort to assemble property, launched several new business initiatives and secured development rights around Joslin’s Longwood campus, which allows for Joslin’s potential future growth.

“During his 25 years with Joslin, Ron has been an incredible force in building the deepest and broadest-based diabetes research team in the world, and we understand and support his desire to return to his passion,” said Kevin E. Conley, Chairman of the Board. “We are extremely grateful to Ron for all he has done for Joslin. His renewed focus on research will benefit everyone with diabetes, and we look forward to working closely with him to continue to find new pathways to prevention and cure, and in his new capacity as Vice Chair.”

About Dr. Kahn’s Research

Dr. Kahn is an internationally recognized diabetes researcher.  Over the past three decades, his research has literally defined the field of insulin signal transduction and mechanisms of altered signaling in disease. In 1981, Dr. Kahn’s laboratory discovered that the insulin receptor is an insulin-stimulated enzyme with protein tyrosine kinase activity. He and his colleagues then went on to identify the first two major substrates of the receptor and show how these linked in other intracellular molecules to create a complex signaling network through which insulin could exert its multiple effects on metabolism and growth.

He also has been a pioneer in studies of obesity and the genetics of type 2 diabetes. Dr. Kahn is the leader of a large consortium of investigators at Joslin and seven other institutions—known as the Diabetes Genome Anatomy Project—that are using DNA chips and proteomic techniques to study diabetes, obesity and other insulin-resistant states. These studies have already defined the role of genes, as well as the environment, in control of gene expression and the development of type 2 diabetes. This research provides new insights into the pathogenesis of diabetes, as well as new targets for the treatment or prevention of this disorder. 

Dr. Kahn received his undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Louisville. After training in Internal Medicine at Washington University, he worked at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as a Clinical Associate in Endocrinology. Over the next 11 years, Dr. Kahn rose to become the Head of the Section on Cellular and Molecular Physiology of the Diabetes Branch of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. In 1981, Dr. Kahn moved to Boston to become Research Director of Joslin and Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. In 1984, he became Professor of Medicine, and in 1986 was awarded the Mary K. Iacocca Professorship.

Dr. Kahn has received the highest scientific awards of the American Diabetes Association, British Diabetes Association, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, International Diabetes Federation, American Federation of Clinical Research and the Endocrine Society, as well as the Berson Lecture Award of the American Society of Physiology, the Hamdan Award for Medical Research, the Rolf Luft Award of the Karolinska University, the Lawson Wilkins Award of the Pediatric Endocrine Society, the Beering Award of Indiana University, the Allyn Taylor International Prize in Medicine and numerous honorary lectureships. Dr. Kahn also served on many national commissions and advisory boards, including as Chair of the Congressionally established Diabetes Research Working Group. Dr. Kahn served as President of the American Society of Clinical Investigation. In 1999, he received two prestigious honors—election to membership in the National Academy of Sciences and to the Institute of Medicine—for his distinguished achievements in research. Dr. Kahn also holds honorary doctorates from the University of Paris, University of Louisville and University of Geneva, and is an Honorary Professor and Head of the Diabetes Center at Peking University.