The Maimonides Diabetes Research Professorship has been established at Columbia University, in the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center. Dr. Dieter Egli, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and a pioneer in the creation of patient-specific stem cells, is the inaugural Maimonides Professor. The professorship was made possible because of a gift from an anonymous donor.
The generous gift honors the extraordinary 13th century Jewish scholar, philosopher and physician, Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon (Rambam), known today as Maimonides. The Maimonides Professorship was given to support the work of an early career investigator in the area of diabetes and stem cell research.
"This eponymous professorship is intended to support the work of a young investigator who embodies qualities and interests reminiscent of its namesake,” said Rudy Leibel, MD, Christopher J. Murphy Memorial Professor of Diabetes Research and Berrie Center Co-Director. “In this regard, Dieter Egli is highly qualified.”
Dieter Egli, PhD, is a unique basic scientist with a passion and expertise in translational research. At 40, he is recognized internationally for his groundbreaking work on the biology of stem cells and their application to human disease—in particular, type 1 diabetes, the focus of his work. He has been an Assistant Professor in the Division of Molecular Genetics, Department of Pediatrics at Columbia University, and a member of the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center since 2014.
“The distance between an idea and its implementation is enormous,” Dr. Egli said, “and we have made remarkable progress. But as a scientist, I see more of what’s missing and what we need to do to replace the beta cells of people with diabetes so they are no longer dependent on lifelong medical care.
“To be the first Maimonides Professor of Diabetes Research at the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center is both an honor and a privilege. It will also have significant impact on the future of my work, which hopefully will bring us all closer to one day curing diabetes.”
“We are deeply grateful for the support of the donor who provided the funding for the Maimonides Professorship,” said Robin Goland, MD, J. Merrill Eastman Professor of Clinical Diabetes and Berrie Center Co-Director.
Added Dr. Leibel: "An endowment for a junior faculty working in the area of stem cell biology is a landmark in the center's efforts –supported by the Berrie Foundation and others—to promulgate the application of stem cell biology to the problem of diabetes, and to nurture the next generation of scientists."