NIDDK 70th Anniversary (1950-2020)
Message from the Director
As NIDDK celebrates its 70th anniversary, we look back on decades of scientific advances and forward to what we will achieve in the decades to come. Discovery and innovation are at the core of our institute, the result of the dedication and talent of our staff and grantees. Our achievements together have led to better ways to prevent and treat conditions among the country’s greatest public health concerns, including diabetes, obesity, kidney diseases, and many others in our diverse mission. I invite you to read about some of these advances in the links below and to follow the development of our strategic plan, which will guide how NIDDK will maximize public investment in research and amplify efforts where needed the most.
This year we’ve faced remarkable challenges, as a global pandemic upended life as we know it. NIDDK staff, grantees, and trainees have risen to that charge at every step, joining the search for ways to combat COVID-19 or pioneering solutions to keep operations running smoothly—despite many uncertainties. With a strengthened spirit of community, we embark on the next 70 years with compassion and determination to preserve and advance public health.
- Griffin P. Rodgers, M.D., M.A.C.P.
Celebrate With Us on Social Media
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Advancing Health Through Research
Over the past 70 years, NIDDK has made substantial scientific research advancements and our scientists have been honored with prestigious awards for their work to improve public health. Looking forward, we strive to discover better ways to help manage and treat diseases central to our missions. Learn more about NIDDK and its advances in the NIH almanac.
Featured NIDDK Awardees
Dr. Marshall W. Nirenberg
October 16, 1968 — Dr. Nirenberg of the National Heart Institute shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with two other scientists. Dr. Nirenberg reported his celebrated partial cracking of the genetic code while an NIAMD scientist.
Dr. Christian B. Anfinsen
October 1972 — Dr. Afinsen, chief of the Institute’s Laboratory of Chemical Biology, shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry with two other American scientists for demonstrating one of the most important simplifying concepts of molecular biology: that the threedimensional conformation of a native protein is determined by the chemistry of its amino acid sequence. A significant part of the research cited by the award was performed while Anfinsen was with the NIH.
Dr. Elizabeth Neufeld
November 1982 — Dr. Neufeld, chief of the NIADDK’s genetics and biochemistry branch, received the Albert Lasker Clinical Medical Research Award. She was cited, along with Dr. Roscoe O. Brady of the then-named National Institute of Neurological and Communicative Disorders and Stroke, for their contributions to the understanding and diagnosis of inherited diseases called mucopolysaccharide storage disorders.
Dr. Jeffrey Friedman
September 2010 — Dr. Friedman, a NIDDK grantee and former grantee Dr. Douglas Coleman won the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award for discovering the hormone leptin, which plays a key role in regulating energy intake and energy expenditure.
Dr. Thomas E. Starzl
September 21, 2012 — Dr. Starzl, a longtime NIDDK grantee, received the Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award, shared with another scientist for his work developing liver transplantation, an intervention that has restored normal life to thousands of people with end-stage liver disease.
Dr. Gregg L. Semenza
September 2016 — Dr. Semenza, a NIDDK grantee, shared the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award with NIH grantee Dr. William G. Kaelin Jr. and another scientist for their discovery of the pathway by which cells from humans and most animals sense and adapt to changes in oxygen availability—a process essential for survival.
October 7, 2019 —NIDDK grantee Dr. Semenza shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with NIH grantee Dr. William G. Kaelin Jr. and another scientist for their discoveries of how cells sense and adapt to oxygen availability.
Chronic liver disease can result from many causes, the two most common being viral hepatitis—including hepatitis B, C, and D—and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). NIDDK-supported research has yielded important knowledge that has improved the lives of people with many forms of chronic liver disease.
Over the past several decades, NIDDK has supported research to improve our understanding of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) through development of new approaches to study IBD and genetics, gut microbiome research, and personalized treatments for patients with IBD.
An estimated 37 million American adults have Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), and kidney diseases are the ninth leading cause of death in the United States. NIDDK’s continued development and testing of new detection strategies, therapies, and community education helps support the health and quality of life of people with CKD.
Nutrition plays a fundamental role in sustaining health and preventing disease. The NIDDK supports an extensive and collaborative portfolio in nutrition research, including clinical studies of diet and nutrition, microbiomes, and precision approaches to dietary recommendations.
Obesity has risen to epidemic levels in the United States and it is a major public health challenge. NIDDK-supported research has improved our understanding of body weight regulation and yielded new treatment approaches for people with obesity.
NIDDK-funded research has made important strides in developing new treatments for diseases like sickle sell disease and understanding anemia. Recently, research into how cells detect oxygen and react to low oxygen levels was selected as the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
NIDDK-supported research has led to critical knowledge in areas of intensive glucose control, preventing type 1 diabetes and improving longevity of people with the disease.
NIDDK research seeks to reduce the burden of this serious and all too common disease with findings shown to prevent, delay, and treat T2D in high-risk people or those living with the disease. NIDDK research also focuses its efforts in gestational diabetes studies and T2D in special populations.
Healthy Moments Radio Broadcasts
The Healthy Moments celebration of NIDDK’s 70th anniversary features five talks with NIH Director, Dr. Francis Collins.
Episode 5: Making Obesity Treatment More Personal
Healthy Moments is a weekly broadcast that provides listeners reliable, science-based, healthy lifestyle tips, actionable suggestions, and other important health information featuring Dr. Griffin Rodgers, Director of NIDDK. View more Healthy Moments episodes.