University of Dundee

£12,500 boost for Diabetes Research

19 May 2009

A University of Dundee scientist’s research into diabetes has been boosted by a £12,500 donation by a local fundraising group.

The Dundee and District Diabetes UK Volunteer Group will present Dr Kei Sakamoto of the Medical Research Council (MRC) Protein Phosphorylation Unit with a cheque at the Wellcome Trust Building on Tuesday, May 26.

The Volunteer Group was able to present the substantial sum following a year of fundraising events and donations. The largest single donation came when £9,500 was bequeathed to the Group on the understanding that the money be used to fund diabetes research in Dundee.

A coffee morning and bingo evening were among the other fundraising activities the Volunteer Group engaged in to raise the remaining £3000. Dr Sakamoto expressed his gratitude at the donation, saying it was a massive boost for his Unit to receive such strong support from the local community.

'Diabetes is a devastating disease and around 10% of hospital beds are occupied by people with diabetes,' he said.

'I would like to thank all the Dundee Diabetes UK support team members, their family and friends who have raised such a tremendous amount of funds to support my research team in the MRC Protein Phosphorylation Unit at the University of Dundee. Please be assured that we will use these valuable funds to carry out important research projects aimed at curing diabetes.'

The MRC Protein Phosphorylation Unit at Dundee is one of the world’s leading centres studying the role of protein phosphorylation in cell regulation and human diseases such as diabetes.

Dr Sakamoto previously hosted a fitness program on Japanese TV, but he was keen to find out how exercise could help people fight obesity and diabetes at the molecular levels. He decided to undertake PhD study at the Joslin Diabetes Center, Harvard Medical School, USA, where he became an expert on the molecular physiology of exercise and muscle metabolism.

After completing his PhD, he moved to Dundee to join Dario Alessi’s group at the MRC Protein Phosphorylation Unit in 2003. He set up his own independent research group in the MRC Unit in 2006. His team currently studies the molecular pathways by which nutrients, hormones, and exercise coordinately regulate blood sugar levels, and how deregulation of these systems causes Type 2 diabetes.

Secretary of the Volunteer Group, Alison McIntosh, said, 'This is a great cause and we’re delighted to be handing over such a large sum of money. Diabetes is a terribly debilitating condition, which is unfortunately affecting a growing number of people, and this is reflected in the number of people who help raise money for research.'

'We’re delighted that we’re able to keep this money locally, as Dundee is growing in importance as a diabetes research centre of excellence. I’d also like to thank all the local businesses who have helped by donating prizes and other services for our fundraising events.'

'My Group is always looking for more volunteers, and anyone who is interested can contact me on Dundee 477048.'