Unger wins 2009 McGarry Award

By Kristen Holland Shear

Dr. Roger Unger, professor of internal medicine, has received the American Diabetes Association’s 2009 J. Denis McGarry Award for Scientific/ Community Excellence in Education.

Dr. Roger Unger

The association’s Dallas-area office presents the award annually to an individual or corporation that has demonstrated commitment to the ADA’s mission to “prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes.” The award is named for Dr. John Denis McGarry, a longtime professor of internal medicine and biochemistry who died in 2002.

Dr. Unger, who has investigated diabetes, obesity and insulin resistance for more than 50 years, received the award recently during the association’s World Diabetes Day luncheon at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie.

He said his lab has provided crucial insights into deciphering how glucagon, a hormone produced by the pancreas that raises glucose levels, plays a central role in causing diabetes. More recently, Dr. Unger’s lab found that terminally ill rodents with type 1 diabetes could be restored to full health with a single injection of a substance other than insulin. Leptin, a hormone produced by the body’s fat cells, also lowers blood glucose levels and maintains them in a normal range for extended periods, his team found.

Past UT Southwestern recipients of the McGarry Award include Dr. Dan Foster, professor of internal medicine; Dr. Philip Raskin, professor of internal medicine; and Dr. Pablo Mora, associate professor of internal medicine.

Dr. Unger holds the Touchstone/West Distinguished Chair in Diabetes Research at
UT Southwestern.