International diabetes experts converge for Levine-Riggs symposium

April 23, 2019 | by Michael Easterling

breakthroughs - arthur riggs Arthur Riggs, Ph.D.
Eba Hathout, M.D., of Loma Linda University calls the Levine-Riggs Diabetes Research Symposium a “tour de force.” Chief of the Division of Pediatric Endocrinology and director of the Pediatrics Diabetes Center at Loma Linda, she is a regular at the symposium, which is hosted by the Diabetes & Metabolism Research Institute at City of Hope.
 
Hathout was one of more than 250 physicians and scientists from around the world who attended the 2019 symposium, held April 10 to 13 at The Westin Hotel in Pasadena, California.
 
I come as often as I can. The Levine-Riggs symposium is the best place to learn about the latest discoveries and research in diabetes. Everyone who presents here, who you network with, is extremely knowledgeable,” she said.
 
As a professor in pediatrics, Hathout cares for 2,000 children with diabetes and related illnesses. “From the academic standpoint, I think this is the best conference I could come to. The advances I’ve seen presented here is tremendous. It greatly impacts my own work.”
 
Attendees representing institutions across the United States, as well as Canada, the U.K., Ireland, Finland, Australia, Germany, France and the Netherlands turned out to present the most recent research into treating and managing diabetes complications, the role of genetics and epigenetics, novel therapies for diabetes, beta and progenitor cells, immunomodulation, and the progress made in “smart” insulin. Over four days, there were 60 presentations in 15 scientific sessions, many moderated by Diabetes & Metabolism Research Institute staff.
 
City of Hope has a long and impressive history of groundbreaking discoveries in the field of diabetes, beginning with Rachmiel Levine, M.D., who discovered the role of insulin in glucose transport, and the revolutionary discovery of Arthur Riggs, Ph.D., the Samuel Rahbar Chair in Diabetes & Drug Discovery, and Keiichi Itakhura, Ph.D., that led to the development of the first synthetic insulin. The Levine-Riggs symposium named in their honor began in 2000 to provide a forum for discussing and sharing the latest discoveries in diabetes and its relationship to other diseases, including cancer.
 
This year's symposium culminated with the presentation of two awards for lifetime career achievements in diabetes research. Steven Kahn, M.D., Ch.B., from the VA Puget Sound Health Care System and the University of Washington, received the Rachmiel Levine Award, while Gerald Shulman, M.D., Ph.D., from the Yale University School of Medicine, was named this year's recipient of the Arthur Riggs Award.  
 
“Coming together like this, bringing the brightest diabetes research minds in the world to one place, is changing the face of diabetes treatment,” said Fouad Kandeel, M.D., Ph.D., professor and chair of the departments of Clinical Diabetes, Endocrinology & Metabolism and Translational Research and Cellular Therapeutics, and associate director of the institute. “Through our own Diabetes & Metabolism Research Institute, we can show the world the remarkable progress we are making and the significant impact we can all make in changing the future for millions of patients and their families living with the disease.”
 
For Aaron Michels, M.D., director of Clinical Immunology at the Barbara Davis Center for Diabetes at the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus, this was his first Levine-Riggs symposium. He said it will definitely not be his last.
 
“I think this symposium is great. It’s just the right size and it provides opportunities to hear research and discoveries that have not yet been published, so we’re learning about it in real time,” he said. “What is presented here is extraordinary and interesting. It is my first time, but I will be back.”
 
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