University of Leicester diabetes professors named among nation’s lifesavers

Professor Kamlesh Khunti and Professor Melanie Davies CBE featured in national campaign.

Two diabetes professors from the University of Leicester have today been recognised for their exceptional contribution to keeping the nation healthy.

Professor Kamlesh Khunti, Professor of Primary Care Diabetes and Vascular Medicine and Professor Melanie Davies CBE, Professor of Diabetes Medicine are named as ‘Nation’s Lifesavers’ – the top 100 individuals or groups based in universities whose work is saving lives and making a life-changing difference to our health and wellbeing.

They have been named for the first time today as part of Universities UK’s MadeAtUni campaign, which brings to life the impact of universities on everyday lives.

Approximately 2.5 million people in the UK have Type 2 diabetes, with many more in a pre-diabetic state. Both conditions are hard to detect and the cost burden to the NHS is estimated at £10 billion.

Professor Khunti and Professor Davies, Co-Directors of the Leicester Diabetes Centre, are pioneering new ways to identify people at high risk, and are developing effective interventions to stop, slow and treat the conditions.

Professor Khunti said: “Being selected for the Nation’s Lifesavers list is not just an honour for myself and Melanie, but for the whole team at the Leicester Diabetes Centre who are at the forefront of improving lives of people with diabetes. This is a major honour for every individual who works with us.”

Their programmes of research have informed national guidance and policy for diabetes prevention and have been implemented across the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, Gibraltar and Qatar.

More than 1.6 million people have calculated their risk using the ‘Know your risk’ self-assessment questionnaire, developed in conjunction with Diabetes UK, and their Leicester Practice Risk score is being used by GPs to identify those at highest risk, using routinely stored data.

Those identified with diabetes, or at risk, are then put on one of their programmes which have proved successful in reducing cardiovascular disease risk.

Professor Davies said: “It is fantastic to get recognition for our work, particularly for the wider team. A national award of this kind, is really great recognition of the work that we do that changes people’s lives.”

Professors Khunti and Davies have consistently featured in Expertscape’s lists of top academics in healthcare. They were recently named as two of the top 30 insulin experts in the UK and in October 2018, they were named in the top 10 world diabetes clinicians list.

The Nation’s Lifesavers are fighting diseases, helping new parents and children enjoy the best start in life, supporting older people and improving our mental health and wellbeing. The selection reveals the amazing use of technology, such as drones to fight malaria, a smart glove for communicating sign language and robots helping older people.

Universities from across the country were invited to nominate an individual or group who has made a significant contribution to the nation’s health and wellbeing. Over 100 universities from Plymouth to Dundee submitted a nomination.

Professor Dame Janet Beer, President Universities UK, said: “When people think of lifesavers they tend to focus on the dedication and skill of our doctors, nurses, carers, and paramedics – many of whom are trained at universities. Every day, up and down the country, universities are also working on innovations to transform and save lives. Research taking place in universities is finding solutions to so many of the health and wellbeing issues we care about and the causes that matter.

“By proudly working in partnership with charities, the NHS and healthcare organisations, universities are responsible for some of our biggest health breakthroughs and in revolutionising the delivery of care.

“This campaign is a chance to bring to life the wonderful and often unexpected work going on every day in our universities and to celebrate some of the people working to make a life-changing difference to the nation.”