Frontiers in Diabetes Research


The Frontiers in Diabetes Research Symposium, held at the Berrie Center each November for the past 14 consecutive years, has gathered more than 2,500 physicians, scientists, students, fellows, faculty and other diabetes professionals from 70 institutions in a spirit of collaboration and discovery. Over the years, more than 100 speakers from 50 institutions have given lectures on topics ranging from the immunobiology of type 1 diabetes to trends in stem cell research, molecular genetics of diabetes, the biology of the beta cell, and more. 

Each year, the recipients of the Naomi Berrie Awards for Achievement in Diabetes Research are announced at the Frontiers Symposium. The Berrie Awards have provided critical seed funding to 27 of the world’s most promising diabetes researchers. One award supports a two-year fellowship for a diabetes researcher at Columbia University. To promote collaboration with other organizations and scientists, a second, extramural award is granted to an established scientist who has accomplished outstanding achievement in research related to diabetes. This award is made in support of a two-year fellowship for a post-doctoral student to continue an aspect of his or her research. Through the continued generosity of the Russell Berrie Foundation, a third award, known as the Berrie Scholar Award, was added in 2013.  

Designed to accomplish three goals—fostering the training of young scientists, recognizing the outstanding contributions and achievements of senior scientists, and advancing the field of research for a cure for diabetes—the Berrie Awards and Frontier Symposium have been emulated by universities across the country. 

This year's Frontiers in Diabetes Research Symposium, celebrating its 15th year, took place on Saturday, November 16th. 

In 2012, the extramural Berrie Award went to the laboratory of Christophe Benoist, MD, PhD and Diane Mathis, PhD, at Harvard Medical School in recognition of their trailblazing work over the last three decades that has expanded the understanding of the disease mechanism underlying type 1 diabetes. The Columbia Berrie Fellowship was awarded to Hongxia Ren, PhD, a research scientist at Columbia University in the lab of Domenico Accili, MD. Dr. Ren studies the signaling activity of the gene Gpr17 in the neuron AgRP believed to be critical in regulating food intake and metabolism.  

Past Frontiers Symposia topics have included:

  • Emerging Insights into the Pathogenesis and Treatment of "Diabesity” - November 16, 2013
  • Immunobiology of Type 1 Diabetes – November 17, 2012
  • Brain Regulation of Energy and Glucose Homeostasis – November 19, 2011
  • Cardiovascular Consequences of Diabetes: the Role(s) of Inflammation – November 20, 2010
  • Biology of the Beta Cell – November 14, 2009
  • Adipocyte Biology in Obesity and Diabetes – November 15, 2008
  • Molecular Genetics of Diabetes and Obesity – November 3, 2007
  • Molecular Mediators of Metabolic Homeostasis – November 4, 2006
  • Molecular Pathophysiology of the Complications of Diabetes – November 5, 2005
  • Trends in Stem Cell Research: Focus on Diabetes – November 6, 2004
  • Physiology of Diabetes in Rodents and Humans – November 1, 2003
  • Molecular Physiology of Body Weight Regulation – November 2, 2002
  • Molecular Genetics of Diabetes – November 10, 2001
  • Control of Glucose Homeostasis – November 18, 2000
  • Biology of Diabetes – November 12, 1999

As of 2013, there have been 27 Berrie Award recipients, 13 of whom were selected from institutions outside Columbia University, including:

Past Recipients of the Naomi Berrie Awards for Achievement in Diabetes Research


  • Extramural Berrie Award Winners: Diane Mathis, PhD & Christophe Benoist, MD, PhD, Harvard University, Fellow: Di Wang, PhD
  • Columbia Berrie Fellow: Hongxia Ren, PhD


  • Extramural Berrie Award Winner: Barry Levin, MD, UMDNJ, Fellow: Louise Larsen, PhD
  • Columbia Berrie Fellow: Kazuhisa Watanabe, PhD 


  • Extramural Berrie Award Winner: Gokhan Hotamisligil, PhD, Harvard School of Public Health, Fellow: Suneng Fu, PhD
  • Columbia Berrie Fellow: Rebecca Haeusler, PhD 


  • Extramural Berrie Award Winner: Richard Bergman, PhD, University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, Fellow: Josiane Broussard, PhD
  • Columbia Berrie Fellow: Elizabeth Watson, PhD 


  • Extramural Berrie Award Winner: Bruce Spiegelman, PhD, Dana Farber Cancer Institute/Harvard University, Fellow: Srikripa Devarakonda, PhD 
  • Columbia Berrie Fellow: Hua Lin, PhD


  • Extramural Berrie Award Winner: Gerald Shulman, PhD, Yale University School of Medicine, Fellow: Francois Jornayvaz, MD
  • Columbia Berrie Fellow: Teresa Mastracci, PhD 


  • Extramural Berrie Award Winner: Stephen M. Schwartz, PhD, University of Washington, Fellow: Gregory Morton, PhD
  • Columbia Berrie Fellow: Vidya Subramanian, PhD


  • Extramural Berrie Award Winner: Michael Brownlee, MD, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Fellow: Dachun Yao, MD, PhD
  • Columbia Berrie Fellow: Lori Zeltser, PhD


  • Extramural Berrie Award Winner: Douglas Melton, PhD, Harvard University, Fellow: Rene Maehr, PhD
  • Columbia Berrie Fellow: James Love, PhD


  • Extramural Berrie Award Winner: George Eisenbarth, PhD, University of Colorado, Fellow: Roberto Gianani, MD
  • Columbia Berrie Fellow: Piotr Witkowski, MD, PhD 


  • Extramural Berrie Award Winner: Clifton Bogardus, MD, UC Irvine, Fellow: Aniello Infante, MS
  • Columbia Berrie Fellows: Wendy K. Chung, MD, PhD and Nilufar Inamdar, PhD


  • Extramural Berrie Award Winner: C. Ronald Kahn, MD, Joslin Diabetes Center, Fellow: Stephane Gesta, PhD
  • Columbia Berrie Fellow: Marta Hribal, PhD


  • Extramural Berrie Award Winner: Graeme Bell, PhD, University of Chicago, Fellow: Manami Hara, DDS, PhD 
  • Columbia Berrie Fellow: Anthony W. Ferrante, MD, PhD 

Click here to support the Frontiers in Diabetes Research Symposium and the Naomi Berrie Awards for Achievement in Diabetes Research.