Internationally-Renowned Researcher Inducted to Wall of Honor

October 28, 2008

Special “hometown” award caps-off TDI’s ten year anniversary celebration

An estimated 240 thousand people in Bexar County are living with diabetes. Another 68 thousand adults and children have it, but don’t yet know it. That’s why Texas Diabetes Institute (TDI) Researcher Ralph DeFronzo, MD, is passionate about finding better treatment options and, ultimately, a cure for this deadly disease. His hard work and dedication over the past 38 year has not gone unnoticed. His innovative thinking has earned every major award and accolade in the field of diabetes research across the world and, today, he received special recognition “at home” with his induction onto TDI’s Wall of Honor.

“He is an agent for change in the field of diabetes research,” remarked University Health System President/CEO George B. Hernández, Jr., at the induction ceremony held October 28, during the 10th anniversary celebration of the Texas Diabetes Institute. “Dr. DeFronzo was a driving force in the establishment of TDI and his ongoing work on Zarzamora Street is making a positive difference in the lives of people in this neighborhood, throughout Bexar County, and across the world.”

DeFronzo is a professor of Medicine and chief of the Diabetes Division at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio. He is the founding deputy director of TDI and his work has resulted in enormous strides in the world’s understanding of how diabetes develops and progresses. For example, he was the first to prove that individuals with type 2 diabetes are insulin resistant. He led, and continues to lead, the development of new frontline diabetes therapies, including metformin—the diabetes drug taken today by hundreds of thousands of diabetes patients.

He was inducted to the Wall of Honor for bringing the fight for a cure close to Bexar County through his research at TDI, located on the West Side of San Antonio, where the incidence of diabetes is among the highest in the nation. TDI, a 155,000—square foot center completely devoted to diabetes prevention, care, education and research, is part of University Health System, owned by the taxpayers of Bexar County. It is located on the site of the former Lutheran General Hospital and opened its doors in 1999.

DeFronzo earned his medical degree in 1969 from Harvard Medical School and joined the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio in 1988. He has written more than 500 peer-reviewed journal articles and has sustained 30 years of continuous funding from the National Institutes of Health and 20 years of funding from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

In 2002, he received the Albert Renold Award from the American Diabetes Association (ADA) for the training of more than 200 young diabetes investigators and, in 2005, the ADA named him outstanding clinical investigator worldwide. Last year, he received the ADA’s most prestigious award, the Banting Medal for Scientific Achievement, and used this as a platform to announce and advocate for a new “Triple Treatment” approach for type 2 diabetes. Also in 2008, Dr. DeFronzo was honored in Rome, Italy, with the prestigious Claude Bernard Award from the European Association for the Study of Diabetes. This is the highest scientific award given by the association.

"He has been recognized across the globe for his brilliant mind and his numerous successes in the realm of diabetes care and research. We are so fortunate to have him at TDI," said Terri De La Haya, University Health System Senior Vice President of Community Health and Clinical Preventive Health Programs. "There was no better way to conclude our 10- year anniversary celebration than by placing Dr. DeFronzo’s name on the Wall of Honor.”

Every year, the Texas Diabetes Institutes inducts a name onto its prestigious Wall of Honor. This distinction is awarded to extraordinary individuals who significantly contribute to the awareness and prevention of diabetes. The Institute, which opened in 1999, remains the nation’s largest and most comprehensive center, devoted entirely to battling diabetes. Past inductees include Elvira M. Cisneros, Dr. Lawrence B. Harkless, Luis Roberto Vera, Jr., Commissioner Paul Elizondo, Dr. Roberto P. Treviño, John A. Guest, Colonel Roy W. Burley and Lo Bello de San Antonio Women's Club.