A pharmacist's perspective on health and metabolic disease
“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants”
Kevin Kraft, Dr Joseph Kraft, and Catherine Crofts, Chicago. November 2014.
Less than four years ago I was a new PhD candidate who was learning about hyperinsulinaemia. From what I had read, I thought some of the answers would be found if I could analyse a multiple-sampled oral glucose tolerance test that also assessed insulin at each time point. Ideally this test went for longer than three hours. From this, I theorised that we would see some patterns produced by the insulin – which we could use to determine disease risk. However, I had no money in my PhD budget to allow this research, and could not find any easy academic papers on this topic so I turned to the power of Google to see what I could find.
A message board post on social media pointed me in the direction of Dr Kraft’s 1975 paper Detection of diabetes in situ (occult diabetes)
This paper was exactly what I had been looking for! Wondering if Dr Kraft had published anything else on the subject, more Googling led me to his book (available on Amazon).
Later, it took a lot of courage, but I emailed his publisher to ask if they would pass my contact details on to him as I had more questions…..and Dr Kraft very kindly replied.
Since then, we have shared emails, Skypes, and I visited him and his son Kevin in Chicago in 2014. He sent me a copy of his incredible database, which formed a significant part of my PhD thesis. We also co-authored a paper along with Grant Schofield, Caryn Zinn, and Mark Wheldon … Identifying hyperinsulinaemia in the absence of impaired glucose tolerance.
Dr Kraft died this morning aged 95. He was a pioneer of the radioimmunoassay – one of the first uses of radioisotopes outside the military environment. His collation of multiple sampled oral glucose tolerance tests shows just how devoted he was to trying to determine the earliest diagnosis for diabetes; and will be the foundation for more research. His discovery of the patterns insulin forms following an oral glucose load is an important tool for the early detection of not just diabetes or cardiovascular disease, but may also identify those at risk of other diseases such as cancer or dementia. It is an incredible legacy.
But he was also a man with an amazing generosity of spirit and full of love and that is how I will remember Dr Kraft.
If I have taken the work of hyperinsulinaemia further, it is because I have stood on a giant’s shoulders.
Requiesce in pace