Frontiers in Diabetes Research

The Frontiers in Diabetes Research Symposium held at the Berrie Center each November for the past 18 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 over 30 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—foster the training of young scientists, recognize the outstanding contributions and achievements of senior scientists, and advance the field of research for a cure for diabetes—the Berrie Awards and Frontier Symposium have been emulated by universities across the country. 

The 2017 Frontiers in Diabetes Research Symposium, celebrating its 19th year, took place on Saturday, November 18th. Bradford B. Lowell, MD, PhD, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Dr. Lowell is an innovator in creating cutting-edge genetic engineering and neuroscience techniques to study energy balance and obesity. Dr. Lowell was recognized along with other award winners in a ceremony at the Frontiers in Diabetes Conference held at the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center last weekend. The Prize is Columbia University's top honor for excellence in diabetes research. Amelia M. Douglass, PhD and Junjie Yu, PhD were awarded the 2017 Berrie Frontiers Fellowship. Dr. Douglass received her PhD from the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology in Munich, Germany, and a bachelor’s degree in developmental neurobiology from the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. In the Lowell Lab, Dr. Douglass will use optogenetics, chemogenetics, cell-specific neuron-mapping techniques, and in vivo calcium-based imaging to understand the neuronal feedback and feedforward circuits associated with hunger. Dr. Yu completed her PhD at the Institute for Nutritional Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China, and a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences at Shandong Normal University, China. Working in the lab of Utpal Pajvani, MD, PhD, Dr. Yu investigates how inhibiting components of the Notch signaling pathway can simultaneously improve obesity-induced type 2 diabetes and a liver disease called nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Mohsen Khosravi Maharlooei PhD, is the Russell Berrie Foundation Scholars for 2017.

Past Frontiers Symposia topics have included:

  • Advances and Challenges in the Neuroscience of Ingestive Behaviors - November 18, 2017
  • Biology of the Adipocyte: Causes and Effects in Diabetes and Obesity - November 19, 2016
  • Can Diabetes Be Cured? - November 14, 2015
  • Next Wave Science in Diabetes and Obesity - November 24, 2014
  • 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 2017, there have been 33 Berrie Award recipients, 16 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 Winner: Bradford B. Lowell, MD, PhD, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. 
  • Columbia Berrie Fellows: Amelia M Douglass, PhD and Junjie Yu, PhD
  • Russell Berrie Foundation Scholar Award: Mohsen Khosravi Maharlooei, MD


  • Extramural Berrie Award Winner: Peter Arner, MD, PhD, a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Medicine at the Karolinska Institute
  • Columbia Berrie Fellows: Hui Gao, PhD and Kristin McCabe, PhD
  • Russell Berrie Foundation Scholar Awards: Taiyi Kuo, PhD, Yann Ravussin, PhD, and Lina Sui, PhD


  • Extramural Berrie Award Winner: Robert Stanley Sherwin, MD, professor of endocrinology at the Yale School of Medicine
  • Columbia Berrie Fellow: Jorge Postigo, PhD
  • Russell Berrie Foundation Scholar Awards: Michael Kraakman, PhD of New Zealand and Ze Zheng, MD, PhD of China


  • Extramural Berrie Award Winners: Andrew Hattersley, DM, Fellow: Elisa De Franco, PhD, and Mark McCarthy, MD, Fellow: Nicola Beer, MPhil
  • Columbia Berrie Fellows: Alberto Bartolomé, PhD and Roxanne Dutia, PhD
  • Russell Berrie Foundation Scholar Award: Maria Caterina De Rosa, of Italy, and Rim Hassouna, PhD, of France


  • Extramural Berrie Award Winner: Phillip Scherer, PhD, University of Texas, Fellow: Risheng Jeff Ye, PhD
  • Columbia Berrie Fellows: Deniz Atalayer, PhD, and Nichole Danzl, PhD, MPhil
  • Russell Berrie Foundation Scholar Award: Luis Arnes, PhD, of Spain, and Enrico Bertaggia, PhD, of Italy


  • 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.