Dr. Michael Brownlee receives JDRF Rumbough Award for Scientific Excellence
May 19, 2008 – (BRONX, NY) – Michael Brownlee, M.D., the Anita and Jack Saltz Professor of Diabetes Research at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, has been selected by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) to receive the prestigious David Rumbough Award for Scientific Excellence. The award recognizes researchers for their outstanding achievement and commitment to diabetes research. Actress Dina Merrill established this award in 1974 in honor of her late son, David. Upon the presentation of the award, Ms. Merrill noted, “I am honored to join with you tonight in the presentation of the David Rumbough Award for Scientific Excellence, which was established in honor of my late, beloved son, David. He would have been very pleased to know that research towards a cure is progressing rapidly and improving the lives of so many. Keep up the good work.” Dr. Brownlee is one of the most respected and influential scientists in his field and is noted for his innovative approach to understanding the biochemical basis of diabetic complications. He is internationally recognized for his research including his discovery of a novel molecular pathway linking hyperglycemia to diabetic retinopathy, a complication of the disease. His propensity for creative exploration has also led to other notable contributions to the field of knowledge in understanding type 1 diabetes and its complications. For example, through his studies, Dr. Brownlee has established that the four seemingly independent biochemical pathways found to contribute to hyperglycemia-induced damage in type 1 diabetes – polyol pathway activation, advanced glycation endproduct (AGE) formation, protein kinase C (PKC), and hexosamine pathway activation – all arise from a single hyperglycemia-induced process that is initiated by overproduction of toxic “free radicals” produced by the cells’ mitochondria. He also has demonstrated that normalizing free-radical levels inhibits the pathways through which cell damage occurs. And, his research of benfotiamine, a synthetic derivative of the dietary supplement thiamine (vitamin B1), found that it blocked all major pathways of hyperglycemic damage, and that it blocked formation of structural lesions in the retinas of long-term diabetic animals. His current studies include clinical trials of benfotiamine. Dr. Brownlee also is the Director of the JDRF International Center for Diabetic Complications Research at Einstein. All of the projects in this Center share an overriding aim: to develop innovative, highly effective therapies for preventing the development and progression of retinopathy, nephropathy, neuropathy, and atherosclerosis in type 1 patients. In 2006, JDRF awarded Dr. Brownlee with its Scholar Award. His contributions to the field have also been extensively recognized through his receipt of other prestigious awards, including the 2005 Naomi Berrie Award for Outstanding Achievement in Diabetes Research from Columbia University Medical Center; the 2004 Banting Medal, the highest scientific award of the American Diabetes Association; the 2004 Davis Award from the Children’s Diabetes Foundation; the 2003 Claude Bernard Medal, the highest scientific honor given by the European Association for the Study of Diabetes; and the 1993 Outstanding Scientific Achievement Award, presented by the American Diabetes Association. In addition to Dr. Brownlee, a 2008 JDRF Rumbough Award also was presented to Dr. Michael German, of the University of California San Francisco.
The Albert Einstein College of Medicine is one of the nation’s premier centers for research, medical education and clinical investigation. It is the home to some 2,000 faculty members, 750 M.D. students, 350 Ph.D. students (including 125 in combined M.D./Ph.D. programs) and 380 postdoctoral investigators. Last year, Einstein received more than $150 million in grant funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In addition, the NIH funds major research centers at Einstein in diabetes, cancer, liver disease, and AIDS. Other areas where the College of Medicine is concentrating its efforts include developmental brain research, neuroscience, cardiac disease, and initiatives to reduce and eliminate ethnic and racial health disparities. Through its extensive affiliation network involving five hospital centers in the Bronx, Manhattan and Long Island – which includes Montefiore Medical Center, Einstein’s officially designated University Hospital – the College runs the largest post-graduate medical training program in the United States, offering approximately 150 residency programs to more than 2,500 physicians in training. For more information, please visitwww.aecom.yu.edu. photo credit: mikebaird via photo pin cc