Spanning research and the clinic: top diabetes awards for Garvan leaders

Three prestigious awards from the Australian Diabetes Society commend the outstanding achievements of Professors Mark Febbraio, Jerry Greenfield and Don Chisholm.
26 July 2017

Three leading diabetes researchers from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research have been announced as the winners of prestigious annual awards bestowed by the Australian Diabetes Society (ADS). The awards will be presented to Professors Mark Febbraio, Jerry Greenfield and Don Chisholm AO at the 2017 Annual Scientific Meeting of the ADS and the Australian Diabetes Educators Association (ADEA) in Perth in August this year.

Professor Mark Febbraio - 2017 ADS Kellion Award

Professor Febbraio will receive the ADS Kellion Award, which is awarded annually by the Kellion Foundation and the ADS, to an Australian who has made an outstanding contribution to diabetes research. Prof Febbraio, who is Head of Garvan’s Diabetes and Metabolism Division, is being recognised for significant advances he has made in deciphering the molecular mechanisms that underlie the protective effects of physical activity, and how they can be used to treat metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes. Of particular importance is his pivotal discovery, nearly 15 years ago, that skeletal muscle is an endocrine organ capable of secreting proteins termed ‘myokines’. Prof Febbraio’s ongoing research efforts include pre-clinical and clinical investigations of many identified myokines as personalised treatments for complex metabolic diseases.

As recipient of the award, Prof Febbraio will deliver the ADS Kellion Plenary Lecture at the ADS/ADEA Annual Scientific Meeting.

2017 marks the fourth year that a Garvan researcher has been honoured with this prestigious award; previous recipients include Professor Don Chisholm AO (2001), Professor David James FAA (2006) and Professor Ted Kraegen (2007).

Prof Febbraio says, “I am both humbled and honoured to win this award. The Garvan Institute has an outstanding history of excellence in cutting edge research in the area of diabetes and metabolism and it is an honour to be recognised in the same way as Professors Chisholm, Kraegen and James.”

Professor Jerry Greenfield - 2017 Ranji and Amara Wikramanayake Clinical Diabetes Research Award

This Mid-Career Award recognises a clinician who has made significant contributions to diabetes research, and provides funding to further advance those achievements. Professor Greenfield, who is Co-head of the Clinical Diabetes, Appetite and Metabolism Laboratory at Garvan, and Head of the Department of Diabetes and Endocrinology at St Vincent’s Hospital, will receive the award for his research into complex genetic and environmental factors that contribute to the development of obesity, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. The award will support Prof Greenfield’s ongoing exploration of ways to identify those obese and overweight individuals who are most at risk of developing diabetes. Through his research, Prof Greenfield aims to develop personalised prevention and treatment strategies for type 2 diabetes.

Prof Greenfield will deliver the Ranji and Amara Wikramanayake Clinical Diabetes Research Award Lecture at the ADS/ADEA Annual Scientific Meeting.

“I am honoured to be the recipient of the Ranji and Amara Wikramanayake Clinical Diabetes Research Award,” says Prof Greenfield.

“It is recognition of the hard work, skill and dedication of all members of our team. I am proud to be receiving this award alongside two of my highly respected colleagues, whose support and mentorship has been invaluable.”

Prof Febbraio says, “I have always been very impressed by the rigour of Jerry’s clinical research and he richly deserves this prestigious Clinical Diabetes Research Award.”

“The clinical and translational element of our research here at the Garvan is what sets us apart from others working in the field.”

Professor Don Chisholm AO - Inaugural ADS Lifetime Achievement Award

The ADS Lifetime Achievement Award celebrates an individual who has made significant, fundamental and lasting contributions to diabetes research, clinical practice or leadership, and has demonstrated a lifetime commitment to diabetes. Over almost 50 years, Professor Chisholm has made numerous advances in the field of diabetes, particularly in our understanding of insulin resistance and how it relates to obesity. A clinician as well as a researcher, Prof Chisholm has long worked to ensure strong links between basic diabetes research and clinical care of diabetes patients. He co-led and led Garvan’s Diabetes Research Program (now the Diabetes and Metabolism Division) from 1978 to 2002, and was involved in establishing the St Vincent’s Diabetes Centre, becoming its founding Director in 1980. Prof Chisholm is an Honorary Endocrinologist at St Vincent’s Hospital.

Prof Febbraio says that Prof Chisholm is a most worthy Lifetime Achievement Award recipient.

“Don is a rare species in Australia as he represents the archetypal clinician-scientist. He is rare because while his knowledge of clinical medicine and endocrinology is extraordinary, his knowledge of basic research is unparalleled,” Prof Febbraio says.

“Don continues to be genuinely committed to the discipline of diabetes and endocrinology even in his semi-retirement years.”

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Commenting on Garvan’s award recipients, ADS CEO Dr Sof Andrikopoulos says, "I am very honoured to award Professor Febbraio and Professor Greenfield with the Australian Diabetes Society's two most esteemed awards.

"These extremely deserving recipients have made an outstanding contribution to diabetes and I hope these awards will support their continued research endeavours.

"The Ranji and Amara Wikramanayake Clinical Diabetes Research Award was made possible by the generosity of Dr Ranji Wikramanayake, a long standing member of the ADS. The Kellion Award is generously supported by the Kellion Foundation and the ADS.

“I also congratulate Professor Don Chisholm for receiving the Australian Diabetes Society's Lifetime Achievement Award,” Dr Andrikopoulos continues.

“This prestigious award recognises a candidate's lifetime commitment to diabetes and their significant contributions which will stand to have a lasting impact to the sector.”

Garvan's Executive Director, Professor John Mattick AO FAA, says, “Diabetes research has always been the heart and soul of the Garvan Institute, and it is a privilege to have such outstanding leaders as Professors Chisholm, Febbraio and Greenfield with us.”

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