Professor Dame Frances Ashcroft FRS has received the highest annual award from the Medical Faculty of Georg-August University in Göttingen for her life's work in the field of physiology.
The medal ceremony took place on Monday July 15 2019. A welcome and laudatory speech was given by Prof. Dr. med. Blanche Schwappach, Research Dean of the Medical Faculty and Director of the UMG Institute of Molecular Biology.
The Jacob-Henle Medal, introduced in 1988, recognises high-impact scientific achievements in physiology and medicine. The award honours Friedrich Gustav Jacob Henle (1809 - 1885), an anatomist and physiologist who taught at the University of Göttingen for 33 years. Henle published the first descriptions of the structure and distribution of human epithelial tissue and of the fine structures of the eye and brain including Henle's loop of the kidney. His work is considered by many to have laid the foundation for modern pathology.
Prof Dame Ashcroft is a Research Professor in the Department and a Fellow of Trinity College. She is known for her world-leading research on the ATP-sensitive potassium (KATP) channel and its role in insulin secretion, both in health and diabetes. Her studies with Professor Hattersley (Exeter University) have shown activating mutations in this channel cause neonatal diabetes and transformed therapy for these patients. Her recent studies focus on how metabolism regulates the channel and how impaired metabolic regulation may underlie the progressive decline in beta-cell function in diabetes.
She is also the author of a several scientific and popular science books, including the bestseller “Life at the Extremes, The Science of Survival” and the Spark of Life: electricity in the human body. In addition to her scientific achievements, the award recognises her extensive public engagement work as an ambassador of science and her commitment to mentoring young and emerging scientists.
At the medal ceremony, Prof Dame Ashcroft gave the Jacob Henle Lecture on "Sweetness and Light - Metabolic regulation of insulin secretion in health and diabetes".