Medicine, Nursing and Allied Health Professions

The fellowship comes with more than £450,000 in funding over five years

Prestigious diabetes fellowship awarded to outstanding female scientist

A rising research star at the University of Exeter Medical School has been awarded the illustrious Diabetes UK RD Lawrence Fellowship.

Dr Elisa De Franco has received one of only three RD Lawrence Fellowships in the UK this year. The fellowship comes with more than £450,000 in funding over five years. The fellowship is a career development opportunity from Diabetes UK to enable postdoctoral researchers to establish their independence in diabetes research.

Elisa said: “I am extremely honoured and absolutely thrilled to be the recipient of a RD Lawrence Fellowship. This grant will allow me to concentrate on investigating pancreatic development, which was one of the main focuses during my PhD. I’m hopeful this research will make a real life-changing impact for parents and infants that have diabetes.”

The RD Lawrence Fellowship has been awarded in recognition of the life and work of Dr RD Lawrence, co-founder of Diabetes UK, since 1976.

Elisa will use the funding to carry out research into the genetic cause of diabetes in babies soon after birth. Continuing on from her PhD research, she aims to uncover which genes are vital to the normal functioning of the pancreas. The pancreas being a key organ involved in type 1 diabetes.

Elisa will investigate which genes are vital by looking at those that are lacking in babies diagnosed with diabetes soon after birth. This will allow Elisa to characterise the role of these identified vital genes in the development of the pancreas through cellular models.

Dr Elizabeth Robertson, Director of Research at Diabetes UK, said, “Dr De Franco’s research into the genetics of insulin-producing cells is key to knowing more about diabetes and how to fight it. By funding vital research like this, we hope to find new treatments and help people live well and longer with diabetes.

“This award highlights our commitment to investing in the future leaders of diabetes research, and is only possible thanks to the generosity of our supporters.”

This research is in collaboration with the Novo Nordisk Research Centre in Oxford and the University of Helsinki.

For more information on our diabetes research, visit the diabetes webpages here and follow #ExeterDiabetes on Twitter.

Date: 14 November 2019

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