Daniel J. Drucker, MD, editor-in-chief of Endocrine Reviews, will be honored with the 2019 Harold Hamm International Prize for Biomedical Research in Diabetes.
Drucker, is a professor of medicine at the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, Mt. Sinai Hospital, University of Toronto in Ontario, Canada. This honor comes with a $250,000 award — the largest of its kind in the world – and will be awarded this fall by Harold Hamm Diabetes Center at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.
The Hamm Prize recognizes and encourages lasting advances in the field of diabetes research. It is awarded to an individual who has either demonstrated lifelong contributions to the field or realized a singular advance, especially in leading toward a cure.
“My hope in awarding this unprecedented international research prize is that we would ignite worldwide scientific interest and innovation to find a cure for diabetes in this generation,” says Harold Hamm, chairman and CEO of Continental Resources Inc., headquartered in Oklahoma City, in a statement.
“I am very pleased that the work of our group, including many students and postdoctoral fellows, that has developed over a period of 25 years from basic science discovery to clinical impact, has been highlighted for recognition by the Harold Hamm Diabetes Center.”
Hamm provided the endowment to establish the prize, following his lead gift in 2007 for the establishment of Harold Hamm Diabetes Center. His endowment of the prize provides for its awarding every other year in perpetuity. This endowment represents a unique private/public partnership using philanthropic dollars as a catalyst for desperately needed medical advances, which is especially beneficial in the current environment marked by declining federal funding for medical research.
Drucker’s pioneering diabetes research has focused on a group of hormones called incretins, which help the pancreas produce insulin to use the energy it receives from food. When working properly, incretins help the body to control blood glucose and insulin secretion, regulate appetite, control the absorption of nutrients from food and convert those nutrients to energy.
However, in type 2 diabetes, an incretin called glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) is in short supply or is affected by a protein that makes it inactive. Drucker’s laboratory uncovered the pathways that led to the development of two drug therapies that mimic and enhance GLP-1 so it can work naturally.
Drucker began his career as a clinical endocrinologist but decided to focus on research when he recognized its potential to improve lives. He is a senior researcher at the Lunefeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto.
Drucker was chosen for the prize by an international jury of diabetes scientists who met in Oklahoma in April. Jury members are Endocrine Society members George L. King, MD, Harvard Medical School; Jay S. Skyler, MD, University of Miami; and Steven E. Kahn, MB, ChB, University of Washington. Bruce A. Buckingham, MD, Stanford University; and Bernard Thorens, PhD, University of Lausanne, Switzerland, round out the jury.
Skyler, who has known Drucker for many years, said he is driven not only to understand the basic biology of the body’s state during type 2 diabetes, but to translate his discoveries into new therapies. Drucker is someone who is “totally dedicated to getting the correct answers and doing science the right way,” Skyler says.
“He is tenacious, and he has added more to our knowledge of this general space than anyone,” Skyler says. “He is truly an outstanding recipient of the Hamm Prize.”
“This honor bestowed upon my research group is further affirmation of the scientific excellence in metabolism research at the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute and the University of Toronto,” Drucker says. “Since 1921, and the discovery of insulin, Canadian scientists have continued to make important contributions to understanding the factors causing diabetes and the development of new diabetes medications. I am very pleased that the work of our group, including many students and postdoctoral fellows, that has developed over a period of 25 years from basic science discovery to clinical impact, has been highlighted for recognition by the Harold Hamm Diabetes Center.”
The 2019 Harold Hamm International Prize for Biomedical Research in Diabetes will be presented during the Connect+Cure Gala at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City on October 22, 2019. The Connect+Cure Gala is a biennial gala to benefit the Harold Hamm Diabetes Center and to raise awareness of diabetes research, clinical care and prevention.
Drucker has been editor-in-chief of Endocrine Reviews since July 1, 2018.
Be sure to follow Drucker’s tweets about the latest endocrine research at @DanielJDrucker.