In honor of the 100th anniversary of the discovery insulin, the JCI has collected a series of review articles, interviews with prominent scientists, and classic JCI papers reporting seminal findings in diabetes, insulin signaling, and insulin resistance.
Diabetes results from a disturbance in regulating blood sugar. In type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune response triggers the destruction of pancreatic beta cells, which produce insulin that controls glucose uptake in cells, whereas type 2 diabetes is caused by impairments in making or responding to insulin. The discovery of insulin in 1921 led to lifesaving therapy for type 1 diabetes and ushered in the era of modern medicine based on understanding the molecular basis of disease. Curated by JCI’s editor in chief, Rexford S. Ahima, the reviews in this series explore a wide range of topics in diabetes, from insulin’s discovery, insulin secretion and signaling, type 1 diabetes, monogenic diabetes, and insulin resistance syndromes, as well as pharmacological and dietary treatment options for type 2 diabetes. Cumulatively, these reviews highlight the genetic and molecular mechanisms underlying diabetes pathogenesis and discuss existing and potential new therapeutic approaches to treat and manage diabetes.
The 2017 Harrington Prize and 2021 Canada Gairdner Award laureates write on the discovery of glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), an insulin-stimulating glucoregulatory hormone, and GLP-2, and the subsequent translation into transformative therapies.
C. Ronald (Ron) Kahn of the Joslin Diabetes Center at Harvard Medical School is a physician-scientist who illuminated much of what we appreciate about the insulin receptor and the means by which it signals. He previously served as president of the American Society for Clinical Investigation and is the scientist with the most publications in the JCI. See the full interview on the JCI website https://www.jci.org/videos/cgms to hear more about Dr. Kahn’s political aspirations beyond the presidency of ASCI and to hear who told him he’d never be a big deal in endocrinology.
We take it for granted today that each hormone and other intercellular messenger have their own specific receptors. But this was not the case until the groundbreaking work of Jesse Roth and his colleagues. Roth is best known for his research on cell surface membrane receptors. His studies on the receptors for insulin, growth hormone, and adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) in the early 1970s became the model for many others.
Barbara Kahn is the quintessential physician-scientist. Dr. Kahn, of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, is best known for elucidating molecular mechanisms of type 2 diabetes, obesity, and insulin resistance, with a particular emphasis on the role of the adipocyte in regulating glucose metabolism. In this interview by JCI Editor at Large Ushma Neill, Dr. Kahn discusses her work and history, including tales of going to Studio 54 with Andy Warhol.