Prof. Jaakko Tuomilehto

International Awards

Grand Hamdan International Award - Diabetes Mellitus
2009-2010
Personal Details/Academic Background
Born on 24 December 1946, Prof. Jaakko Tuomilehto received his medical degree from the University of Turku in Finland in 1973, followed by an MPolSc in sociology, statistics, and psychology from the same university in 1975. He did his PhD in Epidemiology and Community Medicine at the University of Kuoprio, Finland, in 1975.
 
Professional Milestones
Prof. Tuomilehto has worked in various capacities with prestigious organizations, including the universities of Turku and Kuopio in Finland.
 
From 1980 to 1982, he worked with the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Manila, Philippines. From 1983 to 1986, he served as the Head of the Monica Data Centre at the National Public Health Institute (NPHI) and was the Acting Director of Department of Epidemiology at the NPHI from 1987 to 1991. He was the Head of Diabetes and Genetic Epidemiology Unit at the Department of Public Health of the University of Helsinki from 1995 to 2000. He is the Professor of Public Health since May 2000 and an Academy Professor at the Academy of Finland from August 2000 and Visiting Professor of Epidemiology at the Danube University Krems in Austria since July 2001.
 
Research and Scientific Work
 
Prof. Tuomilehto has been involved in a number of key cardiovascular prevention studies, including the North Karelia Project, the FINMONICA Study (the Finnish part of the WHO MONICA project), DECODE and DECODA.
 
He initiated the Finnish Diabetes Prevention Study, the landmark study for the primary prevention of type 2 diabetes. He has served on various committees in many controlled clinical trials. He has been involved in many diabetes epidemiology training courses in the past.
 
The internationally-acclaimed epidemiologist is probably best known for the Finnish Diabetes Prevention Study (DPS) which was internationally acclaimed and showed similar results to the Diabetes Prevention Program study done later on in the US. Professor Tuomilehto’s work has been predominantly in type 2 diabetes, but, he, like Professor Paul Zimmet, has made valuable contributions to type 1 diabetes, especially in alerting the world to the huge variation in incidence worldwide.
 
Prof. Tuomilehto assisted in the development of the MonDial WHO Diabetes Registry for type 1 diabetes in children which demonstrated the 400 fold variation in the incidence of type 1 diabetes in childhood. This has stimulated various intervention trials and much research in understanding the natural history of type 1 diabetes.
 
He has also been involved in research into the genes responsible for the risk for type 2 diabetes through large collaborative studies with the US laboratories and he too has been the Principal Investigator of major NIH funded research. Prof. Tuomilehto’s work has influenced cardiovascular disease prevention as much as diabetes prevention. His initial work was to investigate the high incidence of hypertension, cardiovascular disease and diabetes among young men living in North Karelia, a region bordering Finland and Russia. He was instrumental in the development of the national program in Finland to identify people in the community at high risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes by devising a simple self-administeredquestionnaire (Findrisk).
 
The DPS study for which he is best recognized is a randomized blinded multi-stranded intervention trial, in which lifestyle changes in people with IGT (Impaired Glucose Tolerance) were able to reduce the numbers who progressed to diabetes by 58%. This study has been the major work which has informed national diabetes prevention programs in many countries in Europe and is now being considered for implementation throughout the European Union.
 
He has published about 1000 peer-reviewed original articles and about 250 Editorials, Reviews and Book chapters and has served on the advisory boards of many scientific journals. He ranks among the 15 most-cited researchers (during the last 10 years) in clinical medicine worldwide.
 
 
Responsibilities and Assignments
 
Prof. Tuomilehto has served on several specialized committees in Finland, including as a member of the National Hypertension Committee of the Ministry of Health, Medical Research Council, Finnish Academy, National Committee for International Health Affairs of Finland, Council for Social and Health Insurance for Eastern Finland, National Hypertension Working Group of the Finnish Heart Foundation, National Working Group for Prevention of Cardiovascular Diseases, the Finnish Heart Foundation, National Working Group for the Development of Prevention and Treatment of Diabetes Mellitus, and continues to be the chairman of the National Task Force for the Primary Prevention of Type 2 Diabetes since 2001.
 
Prof. Tuomilehto is a member of several national and international committees and the chair of the Finnish Epidemiological Society and the Neuroepidemiology Science Panel of the European Federation of Neurological Sciences. He is the past president of the Finnish Society of Hypertension, International Diabetes Epidemiology Group. He is also a member of numerous scientific societies, including the International Society of Hypertension and the European Society of Cardiology.
 
He has been given honorary membership/fellowship in scientific societies like Argentine Diabetes Society, Austrian Stroke Research Society, European Society of Cardiology and the World Innovation Foundation. He was also a Member of the Advisory Board for the Scientific Journals like Journal of Human Hypertension, International Diabetes Monitor, Journal of Cardiovascular Risk Factors, Diabetologia, Croatian Medical Journal, Lithuanian Journal of Cardiology, Journal of Hypertension, European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation and Diabetes and Vascular Disease Research.
 
 
Awards and Recognitions
 
• Prof. M. Viswanathan DRC Silver Jubilee Oration Award, Madras, India 1996
• Kelly West Award for Outstanding Achievement in Epidemiology, American Diabetes Association, USA, 1998
• Peter Bennett Diabetes Epidemiology Award, International Diabetes Epidemiology Group, Acapulco, Mexico 2000
• Hans Chiari Memorial Lecture Award, Austrian Stroke Research Society, Krems, Austria 2001
• Pfizer Visiting Professor, Department of Medicine, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA 2002
• UNESCO – Hellmut Mehnert Award on aetiology and prevention of diabetes, Dresden, Germany 2002
• Castelli Pedroli Prize, EASD Annual Meeting, Budapest, Hungary 2002 
• MEDIX-award for the most outstanding publication in medical sciences from Finland in 2001
 
In recognition of his outstanding contributions in the pioneering work that has been predominantly in type 2 diabetes and the valuable contributions to type 1 diabetes, especially in alerting the world to the huge variation in incidence worldwide, and for his assistance in the development of Mondial WHO Diabetes Registry for type 1 diabetes in children, Prof. Jaakko Tuomilehto truly deserves the Grand Hamdan International Award as the co-winner for the 2009-2010 term.
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