Elizabeth Parks, PhD, professor of nutrition and exercise physiology and the Associate Director of the Clinical Research Center at the Institute for Clinical Translational Science, awarded the 2023 Edwin Bierman Award for contributions to diabetes research.
The award, presented by the American Diabetes Association, recognizes Parks as a leading scientist who has made outstanding contributions in the field of macrovascular complications, such as heart disease, and the treatment of diabetes.
Parks is the 25th recipient of the award, since the award was first presented in 1999. She will deliver the Edwin Bierman Award Lecture at the 83rd Scientific Sessions occurring June 23-27 in San Diego, Calif.
Parks is a tenured professor and has been with the MU School of Medicine’s Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology since 2013. She attributes her academic and research pursuits to the role that the genetics of heart disease has had on her personally.
“I am dedicated to understanding what causes diabetes because of its affect on my own family members, the citizens in our community, and those across the U.S,” she said. “Through the great collaborative environment at MU, our most recent research findings have shown how diet and exercise can actually reverse fatty liver disease.”
Her most cited research papers, which showed for the first time how dietary sugars could lead to fatty liver disease, have contributed to the American Diabetes Association’s current dietary guidelines that recommend restricting sugary diets.
Parks has previously received the University of Missouri School of Medicine’s 2015 Award for Excellence in Junior Faculty Research Mentoring and the 2016 Robert I. Levey Award from the Kinetics and Metabolism Society. But for Parks, receiving this particular award has special meaning – she was once a young researcher in the same division that Dr. Edwin Bierman was heading 30 years ago at the University of Washington in Seattle.
“To many young scientists like me,” Parks said, “Bierman was an example of how to lead a successful research laboratory, contribute service to the scientific community, and support early-career researchers.”
It’s leadership that has seemed to rub off on Parks, according to Dr. Jill Kanaley, interim chair of the School of Medicine’s Nutrition and Exercise Physiology department.
“This award highlights the contributions that Dr. Parks has made in the field of diabetes and lipid metabolism,” she said. “Her research is thoughtful, carefully conducted and novel, which results in her having very impactful and translational results. She is a model for other researchers in advancing precision nutrition and illuminates the research of the School of Medicine.”