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OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLA. – October 28, 2012 – Imagine how different the lives of so many would be if diabetes were cured and the billions of dollars in annual health care costs that could be saved.
Finding that cure was the impetus for establishing the $250,000 Harold Hamm International Prize for Biomedical Research in Diabetes, awarded for the first time today by the Harold Hamm Diabetes Center at the University of Oklahoma. The inaugural recipient, Dr. Peter H. Bennett, is an internationally renowned scientist whose unparalleled achievements in the field of diabetes research continue to be the foundation for much of what is known today about the disease. His work continues to inspire still more groundbreaking research across the globe that moves the world of medicine ever closer to a cure.
“My hope in launching this unprecedented international research prize is that we would ignite worldwide scientific interest and innovation to find a cure for diabetes in this generation,” said Harold Hamm, chairman and CEO of Continental Resources, Inc., who recently provided the endowment to establish the prize, following his generous lead gift in 2007 for the establishment of the Harold Hamm Diabetes Center. “Dr. Bennett’s work has long inspired others to follow in his footsteps and move the world closer and closer to a cure. Over the past fifty years, he has continuously made major scientific contributions to the understanding of diabetes, its mechanisms, complications and prevention. The cure for diabetes will be built on the shoulders of giants like Dr. Bennett, so it is fitting that we honor him with the inaugural Hamm Prize.”
Hamm’s endowment of the prize provides for its awarding in the future in perpetuity. This endowment represents a unique private/public partnership of using philanthropic dollars as a catalyst for desperately needed medical advances, which is particularly impactful in our current environment marked by declining federal funding for medical research. “I am grateful to Harold Hamm for establishing this important prize and for the leadership and tenacity he has demonstrated by taking action to address the diabetes health crisis,” said OU President David L. Boren. “The CDC estimates that 1 in 3 children born today will go on to develop type 2 diabetes in their lifetime. This prize is another example of the forward momentum of the Harold Hamm Diabetes Center’s efforts to curtail growing statistics like these. Dr. Bennett was one of the first to address diabetes in a significant way almost half a century ago, and he has been at the forefront ever since. Without question, his work has affected how all of us today approach the disease.” Diabetes impacts more than 360 million people worldwide – a number the International Diabetes Feder-ation predicts will reach 552 million by 2030.
According to the Oklahoma State Department of Health, there are more than 300,000 adult Oklahomans diagnosed with diabetes, and almost half that number living with undiagnosed diabetes, costing the state more than $3 billion a year. While diabetes and statistics like these are well known today, little was known about the disease when Dr. Bennett’s work began. Bennett’s research resulted in the development of criteria used internationally for diagnosing diabetes and pre-diabetes through a strong partnership with American Indians that spanned more than four decades. He played an instrumental role in another study that proved type 2 diabetes is preventable. In addition, he has mentored hundreds of the leading scientists today throughout the world.
“Dr. Bennett’s work is truly foundational in the world of diabetes research. He has made huge contributions to our understanding of what diabetes is, the genesis of its complications and how we prevent both the disease and its complications,” said Dr. Timothy Lyons, chairman of the Selection Jury. “Certainly, one day we hope to have a real cure for diabetes, and that cure will no doubt be as a result of the foundation Dr. Bennett’s research has laid.”
Bennett was selected by a jury of international leaders in the field of diabetes during deliberations held at the Harold Hamm Diabetes Center in Oklahoma. The selection jury was tasked with selecting the recipient who has had, and will continue to have, a lasting impact on the field of diabetes, with special emphasis on progress towards a cure.
The Hamm Prize was conferred upon Bennett today in Oklahoma City by Hamm and Boren at the Connect+Cure Gala benefitting Harold Hamm Diabetes Center. The celebration event emceed by worldwide diabetes advocate and three-time Tony® award winner and Emmy nominee Ben Vereen and followed by a special performance by Alison Kraus and Union Station, featuring Jerry Douglas.
The Harold Hamm Diabetes Center at the University of Oklahoma, an OU Medicine comprehensive center of excellence, is a world leader in research focused on advancing progress toward a cure, provid-ing dramatically improved patient care to those with diabetes, and stopping the spread of diabetes through healthy lifestyle and prevention programs. For more information, visit www.haroldhamm.org.