Gannon receives career achievement award for islet biology researchJul. 10, 2023, 9:32 AM
by Jill Clendening
Maureen Gannon, PhD, professor of Medicine, Cell and Developmental Biology, and Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, received the Paul Lacy Medal Award, the highest honor given by the Midwest Islet Club in recognition of meritorious career achievement in the field of islet biology.
Islet biology is the study of clusters of pancreatic cells called islets of Langerhans. These cells produce hormones vital for metabolism, including insulin.
Research in Gannon’s laboratory focuses on transcription factors and signaling pathways that regulate the generation, maintenance and expansion of pancreatic beta cell mass. Over more than two decades, the Gannon laboratory has received funding from the National Institutes of Health, JDRF, American Diabetes Association and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Gannon, who is a faculty member of the Vanderbilt Diabetes Research Center, has received numerous awards for her work, including the 2022 Lois Jovanovic Transformative Woman in Diabetes Award presented by the American Diabetes Association.
“Dr. Gannon is one of the leading islets biologists in the world,” said Alvin C. Powers, MD, director of the Vanderbilt Diabetes Research Center. “This award recognizes her scientific contributions and her mentoring of the next generation of scientists. Her research has been creative and impactful.”
Gannon earned a master’s in biology from Adelphi University and a doctorate in cell biology and anatomy from Cornell University. She completed postdoctoral training in the Vanderbilt laboratory of Chris Wright, DPhil, studying the role of the Pdx1 and HNF6 transcription factors in pancreas development. In 2001 she established her independent laboratory at Vanderbilt.
Gannon has authored more than 100 peer-reviewed publications and has lectured on her work both throughout the United States and internationally.
“I was overwhelmed when I heard I was this year’s recipient of the Paul Lacy Medal,” Gannon said. “All of the prior recipients are scientists and mentors I have the utmost admiration for. To be included in that group of islet biologists is honestly not something I expected at this time in my life. I am so fortunate to have had generous and supportive colleagues and collaborators throughout my career. I plan to pay this honor forward by striving to be a generous mentor and colleague to others in the field, especially the next generation of islet researchers.”
Midwest Islet Club meetings focus on trainees and are held to encourage greater communication and interaction between junior and senior pancreatic islet cell biology researchers in the Midwest region. The award Gannon received is in honor of Paul E. Lacy, MD, PhD, a pathologist and one of the world’s leading diabetes mellitus researchers. He is often credited as being the originator of islet cell transplantation, an experimental treatment for Type 1 diabetes.