UF diabetes researchers receive national honor

Three University of Florida College of Medicine diabetes researchers were honored with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Excellence in Clinical Research Award June 13 in Washington, D.C. From left, Desmond Schatz, M.D., Mark Atkinson, Ph.D., and Michael Haller, M.D. (Photo by: Sarah Kiewel/University of Florida)Three University of Florida College of Medicine diabetes researchers were honored with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Excellence in Clinical Research Award June 13 in Washington, D.C. From left, Desmond Schatz, M.D., Mark Atkinson, Ph.D., and Michael Haller, M.D. (Photo by: Sarah Kiewel/University of Florida)

The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation has honored three University of Florida College of Medicine diabetes researchers with an award that recognizes their success in converting clinical discoveries into treatments for patients at the bedside.

The foundation recognized Desmond Schatz, M.D., Michael Haller, M.D., and Mark Atkinson, Ph.D., with the Mary Tyler Moore and S. Robert Levine, M.D., Excellence in Clinical Research Award at its annual meeting June 13 in Washington, D.C.

"It's very nice to be honored for the work we do because it doesn't always get recognition in the public eye," Haller said. "In reality, this award goes to everyone in our research labs and the patients who help us test new treatments."

According to the foundation, the researchers were selected as a team for their overall contributions to diabetes research, including their work in the preservation and restoration of insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.

The team credits around-the-clock collaboration and a creative exchange of ideas with fueling their advances, notably the development of genetic testing that may help determine an infant's risk of developing diabetes and umbilical cord blood infusion therapies that have helped preserve insulin production in some children diagnosed with the disease.

"There is no ego involved with us," said Schatz, the medical director of the UF Diabetes Center for Excellence, who has worked with Atkinson for more than 20 years. "We're joined at the hip. I think that's what made our direction so successful and that's the warmth and passion recognized by the (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation)."