Steiner, a 1956 graduate of the University of Chicago Medical School, is an international leader in insulin biology, insulin secretion, protein processing and diabetes who has revolutionized how scientists understand the production of hormones such as insulin. In 1965, Steiner discovered that the double-chain hormone insulin is made in the pancreas as proinsulin, a single chain that doubles back on itself. After proinsulin is secreted, enzymes trim away the segment connecting the two chains to produce insulin.
"Proinsulin was the first 'pro-hormone' to be discovered," said diabetes specialist Louis Philipson, M.D., Ph.D., professor of medicine at the University of Chicago and one of the symposium organizers. "It has served as a model of how many other polypeptide hormones are cleaved to become active and to be properly secreted."
The discovery of proinsulin also enabled the pharmaceutical industry to increase the purity of insulin preparations extracted from animals, which has improved the management of diabetes and created a better life for millions of diabetic patients worldwide.
Steiner, working with colleagues at the University, discovered the first case of diabetes caused by abnormal insulin (which they labeled "insulin Chicago"). Later, he worked with a Japanese team to describe the first disorder caused by an abnormal insulin receptor.
The symposium has been funded through educational grants from Takeda Pharmaceuticals North America, NovoNordisk, Lilly, Abbott, Merck and the Juvenile Diabetes
Contact: John Easton
University of Chicago Medical Center