C.N.H. Long Professor Emeritus of Internal Medicine (Endocrinology)
While most people move from the bench to the bedside during the course of their research careers, Robert Sherwin, MD, did just the opposite.
In 1979, he and William Tamborlane, MD, devised a method of delivering insulin to children with Type 1 diabetes that more closely resembled how the pancreas produces it. Their study resulted in the development of the insulin pump, which is now used by hundreds of thousands of patients. This clinical research project also paved the way for the NIH-funded Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT), a landmark study which showed that treatment slows the onset and progression of diabetes-related complications.
A concern about the long term consequences of repeated episodes of hypoglycemia led him to the lab, where he worked with rodents to better understand the brain’s response to low levels of glucose. His research began to shed light on how the hypothalamus activated the counterregulatory response in hypoglycemic animals. In the lab, Dr. Sherwin also helped to develop a mouse model of Type 1 diabetes that shares features of the human immune system to study how the disease triggers the autoimmune response.
During the last decade, Dr. Sherwin has used cutting-edge imaging advances to move back to human studies to explore how to protect the brain better from hypoglycemia in Type 1 diabetes patients and also to understand feeding behavior in Type 2 diabetes and obesity. Working with a diverse group of researchers—from psychiatrists to pediatricians—his research has revealed dramatic differences between the brain responses of lean and obese children.
As a seasoned researcher with over 35 years of continuous NIH support, Dr. Sherwin is uniquely qualified to serve as director of YCCI and PI of the CTSA. Because his work spans both clinical and basic science, he is well aware of the need to provide an infrastructure that affords the flexibility to support researchers whether their studies take place in the lab, the clinic, or the community. His commitment to ensuring that YCCI provides support services that span the entire life of research studies is fueled by a conviction that successful research requires a collaborative team effort.
Having mentored over 100 young investigators, many of whom have gone on to become leaders in their fields, Dr. Sherwin is especially passionate about investing in the careers of tomorrow’s researchers. “I feel that we can have a real impact by directly providing mentorship and an environment where people can transition from being a clinician to being a clinician researcher,” he said.
The enthusiasm with which Dr. Sherwin pursues his own work serves as an inspiration to his younger colleagues. “There are enough questions to answer,” he said. “For me, the most important thing is to get excited about what you’re doing.”