University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health alumna Naoko “Nan” Tajima, M.D., Ph.D., recently became the second epidemiologist to receive the prestigious Hagedorn Award from the Japan Diabetes Society. It is the top prize in Japan for scientific work in diabetes. Since 1987, one award recipient has been chosen annually. Dr. Tajima is the second female to receive this honor.
During her nearly three years at Pitt Public Health’s graduate program and as a visiting assistant professor in the school’s Department of Epidemiology, Dr. Tajima launched her research in type 1 diabetes, a field where she continues to make headway. Her interest in childhood-onset type 1 diabetes stemmed from clinical diabetes work in Japan during the 1970s, a time when children with diabetes had a miserable prognosis. She is an emeritus professor of the Jikei University School of Medicine.
Dr. Tajima was with Pitt Public Health from 1983 to 1986 under advisor Ronald LaPorte, PhD, where she collected data on diabetes in Allegheny County, where Pittsburgh is located. Since returning to Japan in 1986, she has been engaged in a study funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health and Japanese Ministry of Health, Welfare and Labor to evaluate the prognosis of children with type 1 diabetes. She has also led numerous diabetes-related studies with groups ranging from the Japanese Diabetes Society to the World Health Organization.
In 2006, she served as the president of the 49th Scientific Annual Meeting of the Japan Diabetes Society and belongs to many international professional associations, including the International Diabetes Epidemiology Group and the American Diabetes Association.
Dr. Tajima continues to organize educational opportunities involving diabetes and hones her clinical skills as a consulting physician in the Department of Medicine at the Jikei University Hospital in Tokyo.