Mark Atkinson, Ph.D., a longtime JDRF funded researcher, is the recipient of 2019 Jacobus Prize for his research into the development of type 1 diabetes (T1D). First established in 1939, the Jacobus Prize is awarded annually by the Novo Nordisk Foundation to a distinguished international researcher to promote medical research. It is the largest international prize in the fields of endocrinology and metabolism. As this year’s recipient, Dr. Atkinson recently traveled to Finland to give a lecture titled, “Emerging lessons from the human pancreas: Rewriting the textbooks on how type 1 diabetes develops” and was given a personal award as well as funds for research.
A longtime JDRF collaborator with decades of experience in type 1 diabetes research, Dr. Atkinson has been a valued JDRF partner for many years and has received millions in JDRF research funding. He is the recipient of several JDRF awards, including the Gerold and Kayla Grodsky Basic Research Scientist Award, the Dave Rumbough Award, JDRF’s Angel award, and a three-time recipient of the Mary Tyler Moore and S. Robert Levine, M.D. Excellence in Clinical Research Award. Dr. Atkinson has served on countless JDRF committees since his first efforts with the organization in 1989, including as Chair of the JDRF Medical Science Review Committee, Scientific Advisory board, and most recently Chair of the JDRF Research Advisory Committee, among other positions.
“Dr. Atkinson has made invaluable contributions to type 1 diabetes research, and he is incredibly deserving of this award,” says Sanjoy Dutta, Ph.D., JDRF Vice President of Research. “He has served in countless roles at JDRF and continues to be a key ally and friend to JDRF as we work together to find cures for this disease.”
Dr. Atkinson is perhaps best known for his work with the Network for Pancreatic Organ donors with Diabetes (nPOD) program, which he founded in 2006 and where he serves as the Executive Director. Funded by JDRF and more recently, The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, nPOD’s mission is to better understand the development of T1D by examining the human pancreas. Since its founding, nPOD has become the world’s largest biobank of pancreatic tissue. To date, nPOD has supported nearly 250 projects in over 20 countries and processed 60,000 tissue samples for analysis, playing an integral role in our growing comprehension of this disease and how we can find cures for it.
“nPOD is changing the way we believe type 1 diabetes develops. This would not have been possible were it not for JDRF, in 2006, to take a bold and courageous step to fund this concept when few thought the notion possible and that it would be of limited interest,” Dr. Atkinson says. “While I am honored by the award, JDRF certainly shares recognition for it, given their support over many years.”
JDRF congratulates Dr. Atkinson on his work and for his dedication to the entire T1D community.