University of Florida College of Medicine researcher and UF Diabetes Institute Director Mark Atkinson, Ph.D., is the recipient of the American Diabetes Association’s 2023 Harold Rifkin Award for Distinguished International Service in the Cause of Diabetes.
The college is part of UF Health, the university’s academic health center.
The award honors academics, health care providers and educators who have contributed to important advances in diabetes care and research. It also honors those who have demonstrated outstanding research, evaluation and care in diabetes that has an international perspective and impact.
The award is among the most prestigious to be presented by the American Diabetes Association, or ADA, at its 83rd Scientific Sessions June 23-26 in San Diego.
“This is both a humbling and especially noteworthy honor,” Atkinson said. “Diabetes is a global problem and organizing efforts that seek to improve care and innovative research no matter the location is a vital need.”
The ADA noted Atkinson’s work as the founding director of the Network for Pancreatic Organ donors with Diabetes program, or nPOD, which provides pancreatic tissue samples from people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes to scientists. That effort enables groundbreaking diabetes research around the globe, with nPOD having supported 300 research projects in 22 countries.
The ADA also mentioned Atkinson’s work organizing international efforts to improve the understanding of differences in youth-onset diabetes as it occurs in several countries.
Perhaps most fitting for this award, Atkinson is also the co-founder of Insulin for Life USA, a nonprofit group with a global mission to bring lifesaving diabetes management supplies, including insulin, to people of all ages unable to get these supplies, such as those affected by natural disasters.
“By highlighting the progress being made across the diabetes community, our awardees help move the needle and create lasting change in the lives of millions,” said ADA CEO Charles Henderson.