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Endocrinologist Robert Sherwin, M.D., FW '74, receives Naomi Berrie Award for hypoglycemia research

November 18, 2015
by John Curtis

Robert S. Sherwin, M.D., FW '74, professor of endocrinology, received the 17th Naomi Berrie Award for his work on understanding how the brain responds to hypoglycemia. Sherwin was recognized AT a ceremony at the Frontiers in Diabetes Conference held at the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center last weekend. The prize is Columbia University's top honor for excellence in diabetes research.

Sherwin was an NIH fellow when he published the first peer-reviewed paper that described using the "clamp" technique to measure insulin sensitivity. This test involves injecting insulin into the body to maintain a constant concentration, and tracking the amount of glucose needed to compensate for the increased insulin levels. He used the clamp method to probe how insulin affected glucose uptake in the liver and surrounding tissue.

After his appointment to Yale, Sherwin led studies on the effectiveness of infusing of limited amounts of insulin through a small pump. This method, called insulin pump therapy, mimics the body's normal insulin release cycles. His research showed that the technique could deliver insulin to diabetic patients more safely than subcutaneous injections. Subsequently, scientists developed the insulin pump devices that are widely used by diabetes patients today.

Sherwin's lab is now working on teasing out the molecular details of the brain's glucose-sensing mechanisms, and is also using brain-imaging technology to identify the specific regions responsible for glucose counter-regulation and eating behavior. This knowledge may make it possible to develop novel therapies to reduce hypoglycemia risk by fixing defective glucose sensing.

He graduated from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in 1967. After completing his residency in internal medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital, he moved to the National Institutes of Health to undertake a fellowship in metabolism and diabetes. In 1972, he became a postdoctoral fellow at Yale University School of Medicine, where he was appointed to the faculty in 1974. He serves as the director of the Yale Center for Clinical Investigation, the Diabetes Endocrinology Research Center, and the JDRF Center for the Study of Hypoglycemia at Yale.

The Naomi Berrie Award for Outstanding Achievement in Diabetes Research promotes and rewards outstanding achievement in the field, while at the same time supporting the careers of promising young diabetes investigators.

Submitted by John Curtis on November 18, 2015