Diabetes Program History

The diabetes scientists at City of Hope have made several landmark contributions to the field of diabetes research and care over the years:
  • In the 1940s, the late Rachmiel Levine, M.D.,  described the role of insulin in mediating glucose entry into the cell and discovered that the pathophysiological basis for type 2 diabetes was related to a defect in this glucose transport mechanism, a condition termed "insulin resistance."
  • In the late 1960s, Samuel Rahbar, M.D., Ph.D., recognized the utility of hemoglobin-A1c measurement as a marker for blood glucose control in the diabetic individual.
  • In 1978, Arthur Riggs, Ph.D., and Keiichi Itakura, Ph.D., genetically engineered bacteria to produce unlimited quantities of synthetic human insulin (now called Humulin).
Landmark Achievements Continue
Today, exciting research continues at City of Hope's Diabetes Research Center, where physicians and scientists are exploring a variety of new investigational treatment approaches.
Since the inception of the Leslie and Susan Gonda (Goldschmied) Diabetes and Genetic Building in June 1997, the Department has evolved significantly in basic science research, clinical investigations and clinical care. Most notably, was the establishment of the National Institutes of Health-funded Southern California Islet Cell Resources (SC-ICR) Center, an islet isolation and distribution facility program to support clinical transplantation and basic science research throughout Southern California and beyond. Other significant advances are being made in the areas of islet generation, immune tolerance induction, molecular mechanisms of diabetes complications, as well as new treatments for diabetes complications, endocrine cancers and supportive care for patients with non-endocrine tumors.
Physicians and researchers are working hard to continue the legacy of their predecessors by exploring a variety of new research and therapeutic approaches that could potentially lead to a cure for diabetes and have far-reaching implications in the treatment of many other diseases.
Milestones in Diabetes Research and Treatment:
  •     1949: Dr. Rachmiel Levine discovers the metabolic effects of insulin
  •     1968: Dr. Samuel Rahbar discovers HgbA1c and its role diabetes management
  •     1971: City of Hope establishes the Division of Diabetes
  •     1978: Drs. Arthur Riggs and Keiichi Itakura first engineer human insulin in the laboratory
  •     1982: Dr. Yoko Fujita-Yamaguchi isolates specific cell proteins that join with insulin and mediate its metabolic effects
  •     Late 1980s: City of Hope enchances the Clinical Diabetes Care Program
  •     1991: City of Hope establishes the Diabetes Education Program
  •     1992: City of Hope establishes the Diabetes & Cardiovascular Risk Reduction Program
  •     1993: Drs. Rama Natarajan and Jerry Nadler conduct seminal research dealing with diabetic complications and islet cell dysfunction
  •     1993: Inaugural Community Diabetes Symposium held
  •     1994: City of Hope establishes the Male Sexual Medicine Program
  •     1997: Inauguration of Leslie & Susan Gonda (Goldschmied) Diabetes & Genetic Research Center
  •     1997: Dr. Barry Forman identifies molecules that promote fat cell formation and affect insulin resistance in patients with type 2 diabetes
  •     2000: Inaugural International Rachmiel Levine Symposium on Diabetes and Obesity Research
  •     2001: City of Hope establishes the Southern California Islet Consortium
  •     2004: Dr. Fouad Kandeel leads first islet cell transplantation at City of Hope
  •    2003-2007: City of Hope's is the first program in the nation to train an endocrinologist as an islet transplant physician under UNOS regulations
  •     2011: Expansion of the Gonda Center more than doubles the available scientific space for diabetes research