Oct. 18, 2001 Vol . 22, No. 4

Finegood takes B.C. Sugar award

By Carol Thorbes

It may seem like a conflict of interest – winning a sugar achievement award for researching ways to lower the blood sugar levels of diabetics.

But Diane Finegood's admirers say that there is no more fitting recipient of this year's B.C. Sugar Achievement award.

Finegood (left), a professor of kinesiology and the director of the diabetes research laboratory at Simon Fraser University, has dedicated her life's work to eradicating diabetes, a disease that afflicts 1.5 million Canadians.

The B.C. Sugar Achievement award, worth $4,850, is one of SFU's highest honours.

It is presented annually to a member of the university community, who, through a commitment to excellence, has brought distinction to the university and B.C. by achieving national and international recognition.

Finegood is internationally recognized for her seminal research on the onset of juvenile and adult diabetes. A chemical and biomedical engineer, and a physiologist, Finegood uses sophisticated mathematical models to track the turnover of cells in the development of diabetes.

Her hypothesis on how the normal turnover of the insulin-secreting beta cells of the pancreas during development might trigger diabetes later in life is gaining international attention.

Finegood's impressive research funding record is indicative of the extent to which her work is nationally lauded by federal and private funders.

In 1999, the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation and the Medical Research Council of Canada awarded Finegood $2.7 million to fund a national network of top-ranking researchers.

Finegood directs the network, which is investigating how to prevent the death of insulin-making beta cells.

Described by some of her award nominators as a "veritable whirlwind" and "no shrinking violet hidden in the recesses of her lab", Finegood is also helping to shape Canada's health research agenda and science policy.

Following a national competition, she was selected to be the first scientific director of the institute for nutrition, metabolism and diabetes (INMD).

It is one of the 13 new national virtual institutes of the Canadian Institutes for Health Research.

As the institute's director, Finegood is influencing Canadian research in human diseases related to diabetes, metabolism, nutrition, the liver and the gastrointestinal track.

As an administrator, Finegood has also played an integral role in helping the Canadian Diabetes Association develop professional conferences and annual meetings that provide a truly national forum for diabetes researchers in Canada.

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