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November 30, 2004

Morris J. Birnbaum, MD, PhD, Receives
Mosenthal Award from American Diabetes Association


(Philadelphia, PA) – Morris J. Birnbaum, MD, PhD, Professor of Medicine and Cell and Developmental Biology in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, has been recognized by the Northeastern Division of the American Diabetes Association (ADA) for his many significant contributions to diabetes research. The Mosenthal Award, established in 1966 and named after one of the ADA’s founding members, was presented during the 52nd Annual Gerald Friedman Scientific Symposium in New York City.

“I am extremely honored to have been given this award,” remarks Birnbaum. “The list of prior winners is impressive – they are all well-known and remembered for making longstanding contributions to diabetes research. It is inspiring to know that the Association believes that my work has been of the same high caliber.”

Birnbaum earned his BA, MD, and PhD from Brown University. After an internship and residency in Internal Medicine at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis, MO, he completed post-doctoral training as a Helen Hay Whitney Fellow at the University of California, San Francisco and at Sloan-Kettering Cancer Institute in New York. He then moved to Harvard Medical School, initially in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Physiology as an Assistant and Associate Professor, and then in the Department of Cell Biology.

In 1994, Birnbaum came to the University of Pennsylvania and became the Rhoda and Willard Ware Professor of Diabetes and Metabolic Diseases and an Investigator in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. His research concerns a number of aspects of the regulation of metabolism and growth, and issues currently under study include the mechanism by which insulin regulates a number of physiological metabolic functions. Recently, he has initiated experiments aimed at clarifying how contraction and exercise also stimulate glucose uptake into muscle.

“I have always been interested in the interplay between what happens at the molecular and cellular level and how it affects the whole organism,” explains Birnbaum. “Insulin signaling held the most mystery and greatest challenge for me – I became intrigued by the idea the signaling molecule could change the actual location of important cellular components. Of course, the importance of solving this problem for the health of people in the twenty-first century is inescapable.”

The American Diabetes Association is the nation's leading nonprofit volunteer health organization providing diabetes research, information and advocacy. Founded in 1940, the American Diabetes Association conducts programs in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, reaching hundreds of communities. The mission of the Association is to prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by this disease. To fulfill this mission, the American Diabetes Association funds research, publishes scientific findings, provides information and other services to people with diabetes, their families, health professionals and the public. The Association is also actively involved in advocating for scientific research and for the rights of people with diabetes.

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