City of Hope has renamed its preeminent diabetes research center the Arthur Riggs Diabetes & Metabolism Research Institute in honor of its longtime director and research pioneer Arthur Riggs, Ph.D., the Samuel Rahbar Chair in Diabetes & Drug Discovery. Riggs’ scientific achievements include developing the technology that led to the creation of the first synthetic human insulin — a breakthrough that enabled mass production of insulin for people with diabetes. That discovery, which made possible the launch of a $500 billion global biotech industry, was followed by numerous firsts in the field of biomedical science. Today, synthetic insulin is used by hundreds of millions of people.
also developed recombinant DNA technology capable of producing humanized monoclonal antibodies that are the foundation of modern treatments for cancer, autoimmune diseases, blindness and a host of other diseases. These therapies include trastuzumab (commercial name: Herceptin), rituximab (commercial name: Rituxan), pembrolizumab (commercial name: Keytruda) and many others that are some of the world’s most widely used cancer drugs.
A fan of science fiction since childhood, Riggs said, “I’m disappointed that I never quite made it as a space-traveling scientist. But in my field, I’ve been able to do things that are just as exciting. When I sit back and think about it, I just continue to be amazed at what the field has done in general and that I’ve been able to be part of it. It’s absolutely incredible.”