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The Vanderbilt Prize in Biomedical Science recognises women scientists with a stellar record of research accomplishments who also have made significant contributions to mentoring other women in science.

Frances Ashcroft headshotProfessor Dame Frances Ashcroft has been named as the recipient of the 2023 Vanderbilt Prize in Biomedical Science by officials at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC).

At an award presentation towards the end of this year held at the VUMC, Professor Ashcroft will receive an honorarium and present the Vanderbilt Prize lecture. As part of her award, she will also mentor a Vanderbilt Prize Scholar, a woman pursuing graduate studies in the biomedical sciences in the School of Medicine. 

Professor Ashcroft said: "It is a very great honour to be awarded the Vanderbilt Prize, which recognizes the importance of empowering the next generation of women scientists. I look forward to meeting the Vanderbilt Prize Scholar."

Professor Ashcroft has trained numerous women scientists through her tenure at DPAG and Trinity College Oxford. She has also won numerous awards and accolades for her work on insulin secretion, Type 2 diabetes and neonatal diabetes. These include the Jacob Henle Medal (2019), the Dale Medal (2020), the Banting Medal (2022), and most recently the Manpei Suzuki International Prize for Diabetes Research (2023). 

One of Professor Ashcroft's landmark discoveries identified the missing link connecting an increase in blood sugar levels to the secretion of the hormone insulin – this link was the KATP channel. In collaboration with Professor Hattersley at the University of Exeter, she unravelled how genetic mutations in the KATP channel cause a rare inherited form of diabetes, in which patients develop diabetes soon after birth. This has enabled people with these mutations to switch from insulin injections to tablet therapy. 

As part of his nomination of Professor Ashcroft, Director of the Vanderbilt Diabetes Center and the Joe C. Davis Chair of Biomedical Sciences Alvin C. Powers said: “It is a rare accomplishment for a basic scientist to so effectively translate observations made in the laboratory into the clinic. Through her collaborations, Professor Ashcroft has done precisely this, impacting the lives of hundreds of individuals and revolutionizing our approach to neonatal diabetes."

Read more on the VUMC website.