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Vol. LXII, No. 18
September 3, 2010

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NIDDK Celebrates 60th Anniversary, Honors Researchers on Capitol Hill

Dr. Phillip Gorden (l), former director of NIDDK, accepts the NIDDK Distinguished Scientist Award from NIDDK director Dr. Griffin Rodgers.

Dr. Phillip Gorden (l), former director of NIDDK, accepts the NIDDK Distinguished Scientist Award from NIDDK director Dr. Griffin Rodgers.

Members of Congress, congressional staffers and representatives of many scientific and patient-advocacy organizations celebrated the 60th anniversary of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases with a congressional breakfast recently in the Rayburn House Office Bldg. on Capitol Hill. Sponsored by a coalition of 23 medical, professional and volunteer groups, the event highlighted NIDDK-funded advances over the past 60 years, as well as emerging scientific opportunities.

Among the lawmakers who addressed more than 100 attendees were Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), a member of the House appropriations subcommittees on labor, health and human services, and education; Reps. Zack Space (D-OH) and Gene Green (D-TX), who sit on the House energy and commerce committee; and Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO), co-chair of the Congressional Diabetes Caucus, and also a member of the energy and commerce committee.

The coalition presented two NIDDK grantees and a former NIDDK director with the NIDDK Distinguished Scientist Award:

  • Dr. David Nathan, director of the General Clinical Research Center and the Diabetes Research and Training Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, was recognized for his leadership and vision in NIDDK-supported diabetes research, including his role as one of the chief architects of the landmark Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT), which has revolutionized the treatment of type 1 diabetes; and as chair of the NIDDK-supported Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) clinical trial, which showed that type 2 diabetes prevention is possible through lifestyle change. He continues to play critical roles in major ongoing clinical studies.
  • Dr. Jeffrey Gordon, director of the Center for Genome Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, was cited for his groundbreaking work on the roles of the vast array of microorganisms residing in the human digestive tract in both health and disease.
  • Dr. Phillip Gorden, a former NIDDK director who is now a senior investigator in the institute’s Diabetes Branch, was honored for both his leadership and his own research. His pioneering efforts during his tenure as NIDDK director include initiating the DCCT and overseeing the launch of the DPP. His research has shed light on insulin action and insulin resistance in diabetes and recently established the efficacy of leptin treatment for lipodystrophy.
Blowflies, which are known to show up at the first sign of waste and can cross-contaminate surfaces, were rampant during Lubbert’s visit.

Rodgers (l) chats with (from l) Kim Hollander and Brett Rosen of the Oxalosis and Hyperoxaluria Foundation and Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY).

All of the Distinguished Scientist awardees also were also recognized for their mentorship of many biomedical researchers.

NIDDK director Dr. Griffin Rodgers presented Dr. Theo Heller of the Liver Diseases Branch with the NIDDK Early Career Investigator Award. Rodgers himself was honored with the same award at an NIDDK 40th anniversary event 20 years ago. “NIDDK’s ongoing support for promising young scientists is helping to ensure that the next 60 years of research will build upon the many discoveries and medical advances we’ve made in the past 60 years,” said Rodgers.

The forerunner to NIDDK, the National Institute of Arthritis and Metabolic Diseases, was signed into law by President Harry Truman on Aug. 15, 1950.

NIDDK continues to celebrate its 60th anniversary this year with a series of events, including a scientific symposium chaired by three previous NIDDK directors on Tuesday, Sept. 21, “Unlocking the Secrets of Science: Building the Foundation for Future Advances.” The event is free and open to the public. More information is available at—

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