JDRF-Funded Researcher Wins Top Award from ADA

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JDRF-funded scientist Mark A. Atkinson, Ph.D., has received the American Diabetes Association’s Albert Renold Award, which recognizes a person whose career is distinguished by outstanding achievements in training and mentorship of diabetes scientists.

“I am embarrassed, humbled and honored to receive this award,” says Dr. Atkinson. “Anything that draws attention to type 1 diabetes makes me happy.”

Dr. Atkinson, at the University of Florida, is best known for establishing the Network for Pancreatic Organ Donors with Diabetes (nPOD) in 2007, with a grant from JDRF. Before nPOD, almost all of the research studies for type 1 diabetes (T1D) were on animal models. nPOD changed that. Now, it is the world’s largest tissue bank dedicated to the study of the human pancreas in T1D. It collects and processes pancreatic and other tissues from organ donors who had or were at increased risk for T1D, and makes them available to investigators around the world for research.

“JDRF is transforming T1D research by bringing human pancreatic samples to investigators, and has a large role in this award,” emphasizes Dr. Atkinson. “This is a ‘we’ award, not a ‘me’ award.”

Now more than a decade old, nPOD has overturned a number of dogmatic notions regarding the disease. To learn more about nPOD and what it is doing to cure, prevent and treat T1D, view the JDRF video:

If you have T1D or are at an increased risk of developing it, please consider becoming an organ donor. You can sign up for an nPOD donor card, which will alert your family of your desire to donate your pancreas and other tissue to T1D research, or sign up at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services site, organdonor.gov.

The generosity of people who donate their pancreas and other organs—whether to the clinic or to research—allows physicians to save lives and helps scientists accelerate the pace of investigation, enabling them to find ways to make it easier and less burdensome for people with T1D. Learn more at jdrf.org.

By Alexandra Mulvey