Andrew Hattersley, Professor of Molecular Medicine at the University of Exeter Medical School and a diabetes consultant at the Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, has been awarded the CBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list for his work in revolutionising global diagnosis and treatment. He has previously won a string of international awards for his work in combining genetic diagnosis with clinical treatment to make a real difference for patients with genetic sub types of diabetes across the world. In 1995 Hattersley and his colleague, Professor Sian Elland, set up a molecular genetics laboratory in the Royal Devon and Exeter hospital to do both research and clinical diagnostic testing. Back then it was thought there were only the two main types – insulin treated Type 1 diabetes (mainly diagnosed in children and young adults) and diet and tablet treated Type 2 (mainly diagnosed in middle and old age).
The Exeter work has been key in showing there are also genetic subtypes where a change in just one of the three-billion bits of genetic code can result in particular types of diabetes. These genetic types are hard to differentiate from the more common types, but their recognition is important as they need different treatment. The laboratory in the Royal Devon and Exeter hospital is run by Ellard, and it offers the testing for genetic diabetes for all of the UK and much of the world.
Professor Hattersley discovered that some babies with the sub-type neonatal diabetes – which is diagnosed before they are six months old – can be treated more effectively with a simple tablet than with daily multiple insulin injections. This discovery has changed international guidelines, and means these patients have better glucose control and better quality of life.
Professor Sir Steve Smith, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive, said: “I cannot think of anyone who deserves such an honour more than Professor Andrew Hattersley. His internationally-renowned research into the genetic causes of diabetes has literally transformed the lives of thousands of patients worldwide through the development of innovative treatments.”
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