2 Feb 2017

New Department of Diabetes for Central Clinical School

Professors Paul Zimmet (left) and Mark Cooper
By Phoebe Roth, reproduced courtesy Australian Jewish News

A pair of prominent Jewish diabetologists are at the forefront of Monash University’s new Department of Diabetes, the first and only university department specifically focusing on diabetes in the country. The department began operating at the beginning of this year and is expected to have an official opening in the coming months.

At its head is Professor Mark Cooper AO, an internationally renowned expert in diabetes who has just been made an Officer of the Order of Australia.


Monash University's Department of Diabetes laboratory
Cooper enthused that the new laboratory, based at the Alfred Centre, is “state-of-the-art” and “magnificent”. It accommodates more than 50 scientists who focus their research on diabetes and its complications – the three most significant of which are kidney disease, heart disease and blindness.

“Diabetes has exploded. It’s just out of control” said Cooper. He noted that young people, older people, and Indigenous Australians are all susceptible. “It’s one of the major chronic diseases left.” He said Monash University’s Department of Diabetes prioritises education as well as research, and has a significant international profile —which is already leading to a variety of collaborations. “We have several projects with Israel,” he noted. These include collaborations with the University of Tel Aviv, the Tel Aviv Medical Centre, Hadassah and Bar-Ilan University.

Professor Paul Zimmet AO, also a diabetes expert of international renown, is the principal adviser of the department. This sees him involved not only in the scientific side, but also advising on strategy and areas of support from the community. He said it is probably now the top laboratory for diabetes research, particularly in the area of diabetes therapy and complications in Australia.

“Monash is very enthusiastic about having such a top international group, and the Central Clinical School has provided extensive support for the establishment of the laboratory,” Zimmet told The AJN. “In my view, it will make huge contributions in the future in terms of a better understanding of the treatment of diabetes and what causes the complications of diabetes. And the actual prevention of diabetes,” Zimmet said. He stressed that one of the major objectives of the department is the clinical translation of research findings to benefit patients.

“Because of our involvement in clinical care of people with diabetes, we see an urgent priority of our team to translate our research findings into the treatment of diabetes and to the prevention of its complications,” he said.
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