Frances Ashcroft named European Laureate in Life Sciences
Ashcroft, who receives funding from the Wellcome Trust, was chosen for her work on advancing understanding of insulin secretion and neonatal diabetes. In 1984 she discovered the missing link connecting an increase in blood sugar level (as happens after you eat a chocolate bar) to secretion of the hormone insulin. This link is a protein known as the KATP channel. In subsequent studies in collaboration with another Trust-funded researcher, Professor Andrew Hattersley, she has shown how genetic mutations in the KATP channel cause a rare inherited condition, neonatal diabetes, in which patients develop diabetes soon after birth. Her work has enabled many people with neonatal diabetes to switch to a better form of medication.
Four other Laureates, Professor Jill Farrant, Prof. Ingrid Scheffer, Professor Susana López and Professor Bonnie Bassler, were also appointed in recognition of their outstanding achievements in the life sciences. Each will receive a $100 000 prize at a ceremony to be held at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, in March 2012.