Experts mark the centennial anniversary of the discovery of insulin by highlighting the critical role adipose tissue has played in understanding insulin’s control of metabolism.

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2021 marks 100 years since researchers identified insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas that regulates the amount of glucose, or sugar, in the blood.  Soon after, insulin was shown to be effective in lowering blood glucose in humans with type 1 diabetes, transforming what has once been a deadly childhood disease into a manageable chronic condition that 1.6 million Americans live with today.  

In a review to mark the centennial anniversary of the discovery of insulin, BIDMC endocrinologist, Barbara B. Kahn, MD – along with co-authors Anna Santoro, PhD, an Instructor in Dr. Kahn’s lab, and co-corresponding author Timothy E. McGraw, PhD of Weill Medical College of Cornell University – provide an overview of the critical role adipose tissue has played in understanding insulin’s control of metabolism.  They provide insights into how adipose tissue –once thought to be a simple storage depot for fat — regulates whole body insulin sensitivity through intricate cellular mechanisms. Their article, published in Cell Metabolism, highlights the unique features of adipocytes and how they work in concert with other tissues and cells of the body to regulate overall metabolism.   

Kahn, who is Vice Chair for Research Strategy in BIDMC‘s Department of Medicine and former Chief of the Endocrine Division at BIDMC, is available to discuss this important milestone and where we are today. As an international leader in the field of diabetes, endocrinology and metabolism, Kahn is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine, and her research has identified fundamental molecular mechanisms underlying obesity, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.