OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Imagine how different the lives of the one in three Oklahomans who have diabetes or prediabetes would be if this disease were cured, and the billions of dollars in annual health care costs saved.
Advancing progress toward that cure was the impetus for establishing the $250,000 Harold Hamm International Prize for Biomedical Research in Diabetes, the largest of its kind in the world, awarded by Harold Hamm Diabetes Center at the University of Oklahoma.
The Hamm Prize recognizes and encourages lasting advances in the field of diabetes research. It is awarded to an individual who has either demonstrated lifelong contributions to the field or realized a singular advance, especially in leading toward a cure.
The 2015 recipient, Dr. C. Ronald Kahn, has done both. One of the greatest medical researchers of this generation, he has devoted his career to exploring the mechanisms of insulin’s interactions in the body. His findings are basic to the understanding of diabetes and have informed virtually every new treatment for diabetes developed over the last 50 years.
Kahn is a world recognized expert in diabetes and obesity research as well as a preeminent investigator in the area of insulin signal transduction and mechanisms of altered signaling in diabetes and metabolic disease. His work continues to inspire still more groundbreaking research across the globe that moves the world of medicine ever closer to a cure.
“My hope in awarding this unprecedented international research prize is that we would ignite worldwide scientific interest and innovation to find a cure for diabetes in this generation,” said Harold Hamm, chairman and CEO of Continental Resources, Inc., who provided the endowment to establish the prize, following his generous lead gift in 2007 for the establishment of Harold Hamm Diabetes Center.
Hamm’s endowment of the prize provides for its awarding in the future in perpetuity. This endowment represents a unique private/public partnership of using philanthropic dollars as a catalyst for desperately needed medical advances, which is especially beneficial in the current environment marked by declining federal funding for medical research.
“I am grateful to Harold Hamm for establishing this important prize and for the leadership and tenacity he has demonstrated by taking action to address the diabetes health crisis,” said OU President David L. Boren. “The CDC has said that at current rates, one in three people in America will develop type 2 diabetes. This prize is another example of the forward momentum of Harold Hamm Diabetes Center’s efforts to slow growing statistics like these. Dr. Kahn’s contributions to understanding insulin and its role in diabetes has affected how virtually all researchers approach the disease.”
Kahn’s contributions to the treatment of diabetes specifically impact Oklahoma, where two in three are obese or overweight, and thus at severe risk for developing type 2 diabetes, and where half of those who already have type 2 diabetes remain undiagnosed. The disease costs the state of Oklahoma more than $4.3 billion per year. In just 10 years, that number is expected to climb to $6.3 billion per year.
Kahn was selected by a jury of international leaders in the field of diabetes during deliberations held at Harold Hamm Diabetes Center in Oklahoma City. The selection jury was tasked with selecting the recipient who has had, and will continue to have, a lasting impact on the field of diabetes, with special emphasis on progress toward a cure.
“Dr. Kahn is one of the most accomplished medical researchers of our generation. His work in insulin signaling and insulin action laid the foundation on which thousands of researchers build their work today,” said Dr. Kenneth Copeland, chairman of the Selection Jury and pediatric endocrinologist at Harold Hamm Diabetes Center. “Certainly, one day we hope to have a real cure for diabetes, and that cure will no doubt be as a result of the foundation Dr. Kahn’s research has laid.”
The Hamm Prize was conferred upon Kahn Monday, Oct. 26, in Oklahoma City by Hamm and Boren at the 2015 Connect+Cure Gala benefitting Harold Hamm Diabetes Center. The celebration was emceed by national NBC News anchor Harry Smith, followed by a special performance by country music star Toby Keith.
To learn more about the Hamm Prize, please visit HaroldHammPrize.org.