JDRF has paid tribute to the internationally renowned researcher Professor David Dunger, who died on 20 July.
Professor Dunger’s career in paediatric clinical research spanned more than 30 years, and saw him play a pivotal role in many of JDRF’s, and the UK’s, biggest research studies in type 1 diabetes.
His work significantly advanced our understanding of the early stages and signs of kidney disease in children with type 1, enabling researchers to trial treatments that could reduce the risk of these life-changing complications.
He also worked with world-leading geneticist Professor John Todd on a study of more than 10,000 DNA samples from people with type 1. This work enabled scientists to identify the key genes that put a person at risk of developing type 1 – a key step towards preventing the condition.
Professor Dunger collaborated closely with Professor Roman Hovorka on JDRF studies that explored how insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors could be used to manage a person’s blood glucose levels automatically. This work was crucial to the development of artificial pancreas systems, and led to the world’s first licensed artificial pancreas app, which launched in 2020.
Professor Dunger first trained in Paediatric Endocrinology at the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children, before moving to the John Radcliffe Hospital, University of Oxford, to become a Consultant Paediatric Endocrinologist, and later Professor of Paediatric Endocrinology. In 2000, he moved to the University of Cambridge’s Department of Paediatrics, where he remained a driving force in the UK’s paediatrics research until his death.
Professor Dunger’s impact was recognised around the world, and he received numerous awards including the Andrea Prader Prize from the European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology, the James Spence Prize from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, the James Tanner Award from the British Society of Paediatric Endocrinology, and the International Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Diabetes Prize of Achievement. He was also elected a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2012.
Karen Addington, UK Chief Executive of JDRF, said: “All of us here at JDRF are sorry to hear that David has passed away. David was such a kind and lovely man, as well as a dedicated clinician and researcher. He will have a lasting impact on the development of type 1 cures and treatments. Our thoughts are with his family and colleagues at this time.”