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Florida researchers receive JDRF 'Excellence in Clinical Research Award'

Washington, DC, June 13, 2008 Mary Tyler Moore, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation's international chairman, and her husband, S. Robert Levine, M.D., presented the sixth annual "Excellence in Clinical Research Award" to a team of Florida scientists at JDRF's annual conference today in Washington, DC.

The recipients of this year's prestigious honor are Mark Atkinson, Ph.D., director of the JDRF Gene Therapy Center for Diabetes and Diabetic Complications at the University of Florida and University of Miami; Michael Haller, M.D., a professor of pediatrics and a researcher at the University of Florida; and Desmond Schatz, M.D., medical director of the Diabetes Center of Excellence and associate director of the General Clinical Research Center at the University of Florida.

The three researchers are involved in several innovative JDRF-funded studies to accelerate the development of a cure for type I diabetes, including using umbilical cord blood stem cells as a potential therapy and investigating drug treatments used in tandem to provide immune suppression while boosting the regeneration of insulin-producing cells.

"We are honored to present JDRF's 2008 Excellence in Clinical Research Award to Drs Schatz, Haller and Atkinson. Their willingness to challenge conventional wisdom and consequent ground-breaking work in translating novel scientific insights into new, potentially life-changing therapies and cures represents the sort of leadership we value most. Their pioneering research in the area of preservation and restoration of pancreatic beta cell mass and function in type 1 diabetes has moved us many steps closer to a cure," stated Mary Tyler Moore and S. Robert Levine MD.

Dr. Atkinson has spent 25 years in the field of type 1 diabetes research. An internationally-recognized authority in several research fields and a past JDRF chair for medical science research, his work focuses on disease prediction and prevention, environmental factors in the onset of the disease and the study of gene therapy to cure diabetes and prevent its complications.

Dr. Haller has committed his career to developing safe and effective therapies to prevent and reverse type 1 diabetes. The recipient of several prestigious awards for his work, he is an active investigator in TrialNet Research funded by the National Institute of Health and chairs the Clinical Implementation Committee of the TEDDY study, which focuses on determining the role of environmental factors in the development of diabetes.

Dr. Schatz has been involved in type 1 diabetes research since the 1980s, focusing on prediction, natural history, genetics and prevention of the disease, as well as the management of children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes. The author of more than 170 manuscripts, he is the principal investigator on several JDRF and NIH projects and co-principal investigator on a JDRF-funded project studying the origin and development of type 1 diabetes.

The annual "Excellence in Clinical Research Award" recognizes outstanding scientists who are pursuing research toward finding a cure for type 1 diabetes and its complications. Presented each year at JDRF's conference, it is named for Moore and Levine in honor of their longtime extraordinary efforts and commitment to JDRF's mission to find a cure for diabetes and its complications through the support of research.


Contact: Jillian Lubarsky
Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International

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