Arthur Riggs Diabetes & Metabolism Research Institute Accomplishments and History

City of Hope has one of the most influential diabetes research programs in the world. Our scientists’ work has revolutionized the understanding and treatment of the disease and continues today with exciting developments in cell transplantation, gene regulation, immune tolerance and gaining systemic understanding of diabetes as a complex, multifaceted disease.
Some of the pivotal diabetes discoveries made by City of Hope scientists include:
  • The late Dr. Rachmiel Levine discovered how insulin works.
  • The late Dr. Samuel Rahbar, Ph.D., indentified Hemoglobin A1c as a marker of blood glucose control, which remains the gold standard used by physicians around the world to manage patients with diabetes.
  • Arthur Riggs, Ph.D., and Keiichi Itakura, Ph.D., produced synthetic human insulin using bacteria. It became the first genetically engineered product approved by the Food and Drug Administration and today is used worldwide by millions of people with diabetes. This breakthrough made insulin more available and affordable and helped launch the biotechnology industry.
  • Yoko Fujita-Yamaguchi, Ph.D., isolated specific cell proteins that interact with insulin and mediate its metabolic effects, increasing scientific understanding of how insulin work in cells.

Program History and Milestones

1949: Dr. Rachmiel Levine discovers the metabolic effects of insulin
1968: Dr. Samuel Rahbar discovers HgbA1c and its role diabetes management
1971: City of Hope establishes the Division of Diabetes
1978: Drs. Arthur Riggs and Keiichi Itakura first engineer human insulin in the laboratory
1982: Dr. Yoko Fujita-Yamaguchi isolates specific cell proteins that join with insulin and mediate its metabolic effects
Late 1980s: City of Hope enchances the Clinical Diabetes Care Program
1991: City of Hope establishes the Diabetes Education Program
1992: City of Hope establishes the Diabetes & Cardiovascular Risk Reduction Program
1993: Drs. Rama Natarajan and Jerry Nadler conduct seminal research dealing with diabetic complications and islet cell dysfunction
1993: Inaugural Community Diabetes Symposium held
1994: City of Hope establishes the Male Sexual Medicine Program
1997: Inauguration of Leslie & Susan Gonda (Goldschmied) Diabetes & Genetic Research Center
1997: Dr. Barry Forman identifies molecules that promote fat cell formation and affect insulin resistance in patients with type 2 diabetes
2000: Inaugural International Rachmiel Levine Symposium on Diabetes and Obesity Research
2001: City of Hope establishes the Southern California Islet Consortium
2004: Dr. Fouad Kandeel leads first islet cell transplantation at City of Hope
2003-2007: City of Hope's is the first program in the nation to train an endocrinologist as an islet transplant physician under UNOS regulations
2011: Expansion of the Gonda Center more than doubles the available scientific space for diabetes research
2014: City of Hope establishes the Arthur Riggs Diabetes & Metabolic Research Institute, integrating basic, translational and clinical research with innovative care and comprehensive education