(NEW YORK, NY, Nov. 18, 2012) Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) presented the 2012 Naomi Berrie Award to Christophe Benoist, MD, PhD, and Diane Mathis, PhD, both of Harvard Medical School, for their contributions to expanding understanding of the disease mechanisms underlying type 1 diabetes over the past three decades. The award, given annually by CUMC's Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center, is Columbia's top honor for excellence in diabetes research.
The awards ceremony took place at the 14th annual Frontiers in Diabetes Research Conference on November 17, 2012, in the Russ Berrie Medical Science Pavilion at Columbia University Medical Center.
Type 1 diabetes is caused by the death of insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. A major question has been what triggers the immune system to attack and destroy beta cells, and what aspects of the immune system foster or inhibit the attack. Drs. Benoist and Mathis were honored for their work on elucidating these fundamental issues, particularly the mechanisms by which T cells become primed to attack the beta cells.
"Drs. Benoist and Mathis have provided important insights into the basic immunobiology of T cells as they relate to type 1 diabetes," said Rudolph L. Leibel, MD, the Christopher J. Murphy Professor of Diabetes Research, co-director of the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center at CUMC, and chair of the selection committee. "These issues are of critical importance because understanding them may allow us to prevent type 1 diabetes through immunization and to reverse it in people who have the disease, by interfering with the immune responses that have gone awry."
Many of the discoveries made by Drs. Benoist and Mathis were made possible by their development of a transgenic mouse model that allowed them to study the maturation and fate of T cells in diabetes. This model, unique at the time (early 1990s), is still used in scores of other laboratories to explore the disease me
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Columbia University Medical Center