New Diabetes Screening Test Wins Accolade


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Dr Tim McDonald has been awarded the Young Healthcare Scientist of the Year accolade for his work which transforms diabetes screening in young people.

Dr Tim MacDonald


Clinical Biochemist Tim was presented his award by Secretary of State for Health the Rt Hon Andrew Lansley CBE, and Chief Scientific Officer at the Department of Health Professor Sue Hill OBE at Westminster Hall in London.

Dr McDonald said: “It is obviously a great honour to be given this award and I am very grateful to my supervisors who nominated me. It is important to realise there is a large group of people that contributed to this research, so I accept the award on behalf of everyone involved in the project. This research resulted from the foresight of both the diabetes research team at the Peninsula Medical School and pathology laboratories at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, who recognised an opportunity for a strong and reciprocal collaboration between the two organisations. This unique partnership enabled this work to be rapidly translated into clinical practise. This test is already making a difference to the way patients are treated, which is immensely gratifying.”

Thousands of children and young people will benefit from his innovative work. Tim developed a urine test which can help identify the two per cent of young people with a type of diabetes called MODY (Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young) and results from a single faulty gene.

Importantly, the treatment of this type of diabetes may involve tablets instead of lifelong insulin injections. Genetic testing can give a definitive answer but is too expensive to use to test all children with diabetes. Tim has developed a non-invasive screening test that can identify children most likely to have MODY and therefore selected for genetic testing.

Tim, who works at both the Peninsula Medical School on the RD&E Wonford hospital site and the Clinical Chemistry Laboratory worked out how best to do the diagnostic test and created a test kit for the diagnostic assessment.

His nominator Professor Sian Ellard said: “Tim is an outstanding young healthcare scientist who combines intellect, innovation and a passion for learning with a practical attitude and engaging personality. I have no doubt that Tim has a glitteringly career ahead of him.” RD&E Laboratory Manager Adrian Cudmore said: “The future looks very bright for Tim as he continues the dual roles of Clinical Scientist in a routine laboratory and a research scientist in his very exciting chosen field. He is a consummate scientific professional whose approach to his routine work, research and fellow colleagues is impeccable.”


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