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The Debrecen Award for Molecular Medicine was established in 2003 to recognise extraordinary achievements in the field of biomedicine. Scientists are nominated for making great strides in the life sciences leading to remarkable progress in our understanding and more efficient treatment of diseases.

In recognition of her revolutionary achievements in the treatment of neonatal diabetes and research advancements in the physiology of ion channels, Professor Dame Frances Ashcroft was awarded the Debrecen Prize for Molecular Medicine in 2020. She was previously unable to accept the award due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. This year, Professor Ashcroft was formally presented with the award medal and certificate by László Csernoch, vice rector for scientific affairs, and László Mátyus, dean of the University of Debrecen. Following receipt of her award on Tuesday 28 March, Professor Ashcroft delivered a presentation on her scientific achievements.

Professor Ashcroft's identification of the role of the KATP channel in insulin secretion and blood sugar regulation led to the clinically important discovery that genetic mutations in this channel causes a rare inherited form of diabetes developed soon after birth, and these mutations were present in a significant number of neonatal diabetic patients. As a result, the majority of patients have been able to switch from insulin injections to oral tablets, thus improving their condition and quality of life. This is now the accepted and recommended treatment.

Read more on the University of Debrecen website.