Washington -- The subject of ion channels might seem abstract, but these microscopic gates into individual cells can account for some astonishing phenomena: goats that fall flat on the ground when startled; pigs that shiver themselves to death; horses that suffer bouts of paralysis. Each of these conditions was traced to a malfunctioning ion channel.
Oxford University Physiology Professor Frances M. Ashcroft, working with Exeter University Professor Andrew Hattersley, discovered another malady associated with ion channel malfunction, a rare genetic form of diabetes that strikes children and is known as permanent neonatal diabetes mellitus.
Their discovery produced dramatic changes in the lives of children born with the disease. As a result of their research, these children have been able to switch from daily insulin injections to a daily pill, transforming both their lives and that of their parents.
Physiology in perspective at 120th Annual Meeting in Washington
The American Physiological Society (APS) will present its highest award, the Walter B. Cannon Award, to Dr. Ashcroft. She will be the 25th recipient of the Cannon Award, which goes to an outstanding scientist, and will deliver the Walter B. Cannon Physiology in Perspective lecture at 5:45 p.m., Saturday, April 28 in Ballroom B of the Washington Convention Center. The lecture is part of the 120th annual meeting of the APS, which takes place as part of Experimental Biology 2007.
Dr. Ashcroft, a fellow of the Royal Society of London, is also the author of "Life at the Extremes: The Science of Survival," a best-selling book written for a general audience, that examines the science behind a variety of extreme activities, including mountain climbing and deep sea diving. She has written two textbooks: "Insulin: Molecular Biology to Pathology" and "Ion Channels and Disease." She has also published more than 200 research articles in scholarly journals.'"/>