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Roger Unger

Roger H. Unger MD

Dr. Unger is a research staff physician at the VA Hospital in Dallas and is Professor of Internal Medicine and the Touchstone/West Distinguished Chair in Diabetes Research at UT Southwestern Medical Center. He was awarded the Banting Medal from the ADA in 1975, the Claude Bernard Award of the European Society for the Study of Diabetes, the Koch Award of the Endocrine Society and was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1986. Dr. Unger was awarded the 2009 J. Denis McGarry Award for Scientific Excellence in Diabetes and the 2014 Rolf Luft Award for Diabetes Research.

Dr. Roger Unger‘s research career began with development of a glucagon radioimmunoassay used to elucidate the physiology and pathophysiology of this previously neglected hormone. He discovered that all metabolic manifestations of diabetes require glucagon action, including total pancreatectomy. He demonstrated that glucagon suppression eliminated all metabolic abnormalities of type 1 and type 2 diabetes.  His studies have revealed diabetes as a bihormonal disease in which insufficiency of insulin is associated with an increase in glucagon, which accounts for the hepatic overproduction of glucose and ketones in diabetes in the absence of glucagon signaling either due to treatment or glucagon receptor knockout a complete deficiency of insulin production no longer causes hyperglycemia or ketosis. The discovery of leptin in 1994 provided a potent glucagon suppressing hormone that also was an anti-lipotoxin, sparing non-adipose tissues from ectopic lipid accumulation. The interplay of glucagon and leptin has led to a new biology of diabetes.