Researchers Honored for Scientific Excellence at JDRF’s 2011 Annual Conference

Researchers Honored for Scientific Excellence at JDRF’s 2011 Annual Conference

May 19, 2011

Prestigious Awards Presented for Outstanding Work on Diabetes Research


Denver, Colo., May 19, 2011 – Three scientists who have made exceptional contributions to diabetes research were recognized today by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) with two prestigious awards: the David Rumbough Award for Scientific Excellence and the Gerold & Kayla Grodsky Basic Research Scientist Award. The awards were presented during JDRF’s Annual Conference in Denver, Colorado.

Established almost 40 years ago by actress Dina Merrill in honor of her late son, David, the Rumbough Award is presented annually in recognition of outstanding achievement in diabetes research and service to JDRF. This year’s recipients are John A. Todd, Ph.D. and Alvin C. Powers, M.D.

The Gerold & Kayla Grodsky Basic Research Scientist Award is presented annually to a scientist, or team of scientists, who has demonstrated excellent leadership and innovation in type 1 diabetes research. This year’s award was presented to Pedro L. Herrera, Ph.D.

“These prestigious awards are a way to honor these three scientists, whose dedication and superb scientific contributions have made a tremendous impact on type 1 diabetes research,” said Dr. Richard Insel, Chief Scientific Officer at JDRF. “Their outstanding work solidifies our commitment to finding better treatments and a cure for type 1 diabetes and its complications, and strengthens our resolve that we will ultimately cure this disease.”

About the Awardees

Professor Todd is the founding director of the JDRF-Wellcome Trust Diabetes and Inflammation Laboratory at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, a world-class center for multidisciplinary and collaborative study, and led the creation of one of the largest collections of genetic research in type 1 diabetes. His multidisciplinary approach laid an important foundation from which key discoveries in type 1 diabetes research began to emerge-discoveries ranging from the genetics underlying susceptibility to type 1 diabetes, to the cellular and molecular events underlying the disease. His leadership has also promoted the development of biomedical resources, novel analytical tools, and new technologies in clinical genetics. Professor Todd has authored more than 390 publications and received several awards for his research.

Dr. Powers is a professor of medicine, molecular physiology and biophysics at Vanderbilt University, the director of the Vanderbilt Diabetes Center, chief of the division of diabetes, endocrinology, and metabolism at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. Under his leadership, the Vanderbilt Diabetes Center has become a renowned training program for basic and clinical diabetes research at the graduate, postdoctoral, and junior faculty levels. Dr. Powers was the chair of the Steering Committee of the National Institutes of Health’s Islet Cell Resource Consortium. He has been a leader in the study of pancreatic biology for more than 20 years, and his work has provided critical insights on islet growth, regeneration, and transplantation.

Dr. Herrera is an associate professor in the department of cell physiology and metabolism at the University of Geneva Medical School, director of the university’s Transgenic Core Facility, and an independent investigator at the Faculty of Medicine of Geneva. He is a pioneer in the field of beta cell regeneration, and an expert in the early development of the pancreas. Dr. Herrera made a landmark discovery in 2010 when he became the first to show that the alpha cells of the islets can naturally and spontaneously convert to functioning insulin-producing beta cells. Previous research has been able to reprogram adult cells into insulin-producing cells, but the genetic manipulation required would be difficult to translate into actual therapies for people with type 1 diabetes. Dr. Herrera’s transformative findings will catalyze the development of novel therapies to restore beta cell function. 


About JDRF

JDRF is the leading global organization focused on type 1 diabetes (T1D) research. Driven by passionate, grassroots volunteers connected to children, adolescents, and adults with this disease, JDRF is now the largest charitable supporter of T1D research. The goal of JDRF research is to improve the lives of all people affected by T1D by accelerating progress on the most promising opportunities for curing, better treating, and preventing T1D. JDRF collaborates with a wide spectrum of partners who share this goal.

Since its founding in 1970, JDRF has awarded more than $1.7 billion to diabetes research. Past JDRF efforts have helped to significantly advance the care of people with this disease, and have expanded the critical scientific understanding of T1D. JDRF will not rest until T1D is fully conquered. More than 80 percent of JDRF’s expenditures directly support research and research-related education.