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Diabetes researcher elected to the British Royal Society

David Nicholls, professor emeritus of Mitochondrial Physiology at the Buck Institute in Novato, California and mentor at the Lund University Diabetes Centre, has become a member of the British Royal Society. The society’s fellows include many of the world’s most eminent scientists.
“I feel immensely honoured!” says David Nicholls.

David Nicholls knew from a very early age that he wanted to be involved in research.
- I decided to become a scientist at the age of seven when I was given a "Boys Book of Wonders" as a prize. Sorry it was assumed that girls would not be interested! he says.
He has been working for more than 50 years on trying to understand how mitochondria - the powerhouses of the cell - function in health and disease. He is probably best known for working out the way in which a special tissue, brown fat, produces heat in the newborn.
- The insight led me to develop a general understanding of mitochondrial energy control, which I have applied to various problems, most recently to look at the role of mitochondria in controlling insulin secretion, in collaboration with colleagues at the Lund University Diabetes Centre.

Mentoring researchers at LUDC

David Nicholls has been a very much appreciated mentor to the researchers at Lund University Diabetes Centre for the last ten years.
- My fruitful ten-year collaboration with Hindrik Mulder and colleagues has highlighted the importance of interdisciplinary collaborations in pushing frontiers, says David Nicholls.
One of the collaborators is professor Lena Eliasson:
- David Nicholls is a wonderful scientist full with knowledge and curiosity. Discussions with him make you rethink your hypothesis and think outside normal frames and models that are consensus. We have collaborated on one project which was really difficult and novel. Discussing electrophysiology together with him within this project was both great fun and a challenging experience.
Even though he has been a professor emeritus since 2016, David Nicholls is still active as a mentor and educator, writing reviews and running advanced courses.
“Sadly, the cell biology field has still to learn some of the subtleties of cellular energy production.”

Exceptional contributions

All together, fifty-one eminent scientists have become Fellows of the Royal Society for their exceptional contributions to science. Venki Ramakrishnan, President of the Royal Society, says:
- Over the course of the Royal Society’s vast history, it is our Fellowship that has remained a constant thread and the substance from which our purpose has been realised: to use science for the benefit of humanity. This year’s newly elected Fellows and Foreign Members of the Royal Society embody this, being drawn from diverse fields of enquiry - epidemiology, geometry, climatology - at once disparate, but also aligned in their pursuit and contributions of knowledge about the world in which we live, and it is with great honour that I welcome them as Fellows of the Royal Society.

Sara Liedholm

About David Nicholls

Professor David Nicholls fellow of the British Royal Society
Professor David Nicholls, fellow of the British Royal Society.

David Nicholls has over 300 publications that have been cited by other scientists more than 33 000 times. Four editions of the Bioenergetics textbook have introduced the mitochondrial field to generations of scientists. He has developed numerous techniques to measure mitochondrial function in cells, and their dysfunction in aging-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes and stroke.


More: The Buck Institute