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Exchanges at the Frontier with Frances Ashcroft

Thursday 6 December 2012, 19.00-20.30

Frances Ashcroft is Royal Society Research Professor at the University of Oxford, and has devoted her career as a geneticist and physiologist to studying the link between blood sugar and insulin.

In 1984, Professor Ashcroft discovered the missing link connecting an increase in the blood sugar level, as happens after you eat a chocolate bar, to secretion of the hormone insulin. If this process fails, it leads to diabetes. In subsequent studies, she unravelled how genetic mutations in this protein cause a rare inherited condition, known as neonatal diabetes, in which patients develop diabetes soon after birth. This has helped transform the lives of hundreds of children who are born with diabetes, enabling them to come off insulin injections and instead take a daily pill.

And yet, 30 years on, it's still not clear precisely what goes wrong with the mechanism in the much more common type 2 diabetes, now affecting hundreds of millions. Type 2 diabetes is linked to obesity, and it seems that the growing obesity crisis in high-income countries, caused by poor diet and lack of exercise, may be reversing the advances of medical science. She speaks to AC Grayling about diabetes, obesity and the future of health in high-income countries.

An edited recording of this event will be broadcast in early 2013 on the BBC World Service to a global audience of 40 million people.

Frances Ashcroft, Royal Society Research Professor, University of Oxford

This event is FREE. 


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