International award for Danish diabetes researcher

Professor Hans-Henrik Parving's many years of intensive research in sequelae of diabetes have resulted in far better treatment and new preventive measures increasing the quality of life as well as life expectancy for patients with diabetes.

Prof. Parving from the Department of Endocrinology at Rigshospitalet is a key figure in international diabetes research. Not least thanks to his research results from the past 40 years, kidney patients with diabetes now live three-times longer on average.

For his persistent efforts for many years, and particularly for his research projects, which have changed diabetes treatment as well as prevention of sequelae fundamentally, he is now receiving the prestigious, international G. B. Morgagni Prize. 

Prevention of kidney disease 

Diabetes patients have a considerably higher risk of serious sequelae, leading to huge costs for the economy as well as for the individual patient in terms of reduced quality of life and greatly increased risk of premature death. Diabetic kidney disease is the most common cause of chronic renal failure, requiring dialysis treatment or even a kidney transplant.

However, in 1983, Prof. Parving was one of the first in the world to demonstrate that it is possible to postpone chronic renal failure in diabetes patients by lowering their blood pressure. This has since become a standard treatment throughout the world, and Prof. Parving has concentrated his research on improving this treatment.

In a later study, Prof. Parving has shown that it is possible to lower the risk of developing diabetic kidney disease by a further 50-70% with preventive treatment to reduce blood pressure. The next logical step was to examine whether it was possible to identify diabetics with a particularly high risk of developing kidney diseases by taking earlier action. Prof. Parving succeeded with this and now physicians are able to identify the about 40% of all diabetics who are at risk of developing kidney diseases, and thereby initiate early preventive treatment.

Intensive early treatment 

Moreover, Prof. Parving has been involved in the planning and execution of the long-term research project entitled the Steno-2 Study. Over a period of 13 years, this study showed that early and targeted intervention with high-blood-pressure medication that lowers the fat content in the blood as well as aspirin can reduce the risk of kidney and eye diseases, non-fatal heart diseases and premature death by up to 50%. This preventive treatment has also become standard.

Since Prof. Parving began his career as a researcher in 1975, there has been major progress for diabetes patients. At that time, the average survival rate for patients with diabetic kidney diseases was about seven years from the time of diagnosis. Today more than half the patients are still alive after 21 years.

Furthermore, even though the number of diabetes patients in Denmark has more than doubled since 2002, the number of diabetics in dialysis treatment has remained stable.

This is due to broad, international research efforts which have been highly influenced by Prof. Parving's work.

Professor Hans-Henrik Parving in brief

Prof. Hans-Henrik Parving qualified as a physician in 1969 and as DMSc at the University of Copenhagen in 1975. In 2010, he was the first European ever to receive the prestigious Scribner Award from the American Society of Nephrology. He had already received many other national and international awards; for example the Danish H.C. Hagedorn Prize.

Prof. Parving has published more than 575 scientific publications in international journals. He has received great recognition - also from the international community - and he has served as a supervisor for more than 20 medical doctoral dissertations.

The G.B. Morgagni Prize in brief 

The G.B. Morgagni Prize is awarded every other year to diabetes researchers from all over the world. The prize has been awarded since 1984 and was named after the Italian Professor Giovanni Battista Morgagni who is known as the father of modern pathological anatomy.

The prize comes with a gold medal and EUR 20,000.

The award will be presented to Professor Parving at a ceremony in the Italian city Padua on 31 October this year.

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