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News Release

C. Ronald Kahn, M.D., Is Awarded the Prestigious Wolf Prize in Medicine for Groundbreaking Research in Insulin Signaling

The Wolf Prize is considered to be the third most prestigious award, after the Nobel Prize.

BOSTON – (January 19, 2016) – The Wolf Foundation announced earlier this week that it has awarded the Wolf Prize in Medicine to C. Ronald Kahn, M.D., Chief Academic Officer and Senior Investigator at Joslin Diabetes Center and the Mary K. Iacocca Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

C. Ronald Kahn, M.D., Chief Academic Officer and Senior Investigator at Joslin Diabetes Center and the Mary K. Iacocca Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.


The Wolf Prize in Medicine is considered the third most prestigious award, after the Nobel Prize and the Lasker Award.   The prize honors scientists who have had a significant impact in the field of scientific research and demonstrated exceptional talent and accomplishments in their field. The award will presented in June, in Jerusalem by the President of Israel, Reuven Rivlin.

“I am both delighted and surprised to receive the Wolf Prize,” said Dr. Kahn.  “I am incredibly grateful for all of the support I have had throughout my career, both from the people in my lab and the many wonderful people with whom I have worked both within and outside of Joslin. While this is an international award and I have had some great fellows and colleagues from all over the world, a number of them have been from Israel, so winning the prestigious award in Israel is especially meaningful.”

Dr. Kahn has been selected to receive the distinction in medicine for his pioneering studies defining insulin signaling and its alterations in disease. This work has been essential to understanding the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes. Dr. Kahn’s finding that the insulin receptor transmits insulin signals through activation of an intrinsic protein tyrosine kinase was the first step in unraveling the insulin signaling cascade. These studies formed the basis of our present knowledge of the pathogenesis of insulin resistance. In concurrent studies, Dr. Kahn demonstrated that insulin resistance precedes and leads to type 2 diabetes. He was also the first to define the important role of insulin action in unexpected tissues such as brain, vascular endothelial cells and pancreatic beta cells, linking insulin resistance to development of Alzheimer’s disease, atherosclerosis, as well as diabetes.

Dr. Kahn will share this year’s prize with Lewis Cantley, Ph.D., Meyer Director of the Sandra and Edward Meyer Cancer Center at Weill Cornell Medical College/Ronald P. Stanton Clinical Cancer Program at New York-Presbyterian and Professor of Cancer Biology in Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College.

Since 1978, The Wolf Foundation has been awarding this prize in the Sciences. The prize in each field consists of a certificate and a monetary award of $100,000.

Dr. Kahn has published over 800 papers and is among the most highly cited scientists in the field and in diabetes worldwide.

Dr. Kahn’s other notable accomplishments include:
• Recipient of The Harold Hamm International Prize for Biomedical Research in Diabetes by The Harold Hamm Diabetes Center in 2015
• Recipient of the Manpei Suzuki International Prize for Top Diabetes Researcher Worldwide in 2009
• Recipient of the Basic Science Award of the International Diabetes Federation in 2015
• Recipient of the Frontiers in Science Award, American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists in 2010
• Recipient of the  Distinguished Leader in Insulin Resistance, World Congress of Insulin Resistance in Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease in2010
• Recipient of the inaugural Helmholtz Diabetes Lecture Award by the Helmholtz Diabetes Center in 2013
• Recipient of the 2015 Endocrine Regulation Prize by Le Fondation IPSEN in 2015

Dr. Kahn is head of the Section on Integrative Physiology and Metabolism at Joslin Diabetes Center. He is also the Mary K. Iacocca Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, where he has been a member of the faculty since 1981. From 1981 to 2000, he served as Joslin’s Research Director, then transitioned into the role of Joslin’s President from 2000 - 2007. Under his leadership, Joslin’s research grew more than 20-fold, and clinical and educational activity tripled. In 2012 he was named the Center’s first Chief Academic Officer:  he oversees faculty recruitment, appointments, and promotions at the center, which trains about 170 doctors and doctoral fellows a year.

“Dr. Kahn is a world-renowned leader in type 2 diabetes and obesity research. His breakthrough research on insulin signaling and resistance has been fundamental in our understanding of type 2 diabetes,” said Peter S. Amenta, M.D., Ph.D., President and CEO of Joslin Diabetes Center. “This award clearly reflects the extensive impact his work has had on our understanding of the causes for diabetes and ultimately the development of treatments for this disease.”

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