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For readers who may not be familiar with the history of diabetes research, this book provides an insight into the personalities that made major contributions; the recognition and honours conferred on those individuals and their respective colleagues, and the forgotten, unsung heroes and heroines whose names have faded into obscurity.

The book comprises 26 chapters, involves 23 authors and has been very well collated and organised by the two editors of this, the 29th volume from the Frontiers in Diabetes series. There is a concise reference list for most chapters, however, there are two which are particularly well represented: ‘Saving Sight – A history of Diabetic Eye Disease’ and ‘Historical Development of Oral Antidiabetic Agents: The Era of Fortuitous Discovery’.

There are numerous figures scattered liberally throughout the text, many of which are in colour, and a few tables. Portraits of early experimenters and diabetologists, including some of their research facilities, memorials, extracts from key scientific articles and historical equipment are presented.

Many books about diabetes describe this chronic disease in terms of the signs, symptoms, co-morbidities, treatments, complications and impact of suboptimal control. Here, three major ‘milestones’ are covered in a highly informative and thought-provoking style. Taking the reader on a historical journey, travelling between Europe, Canada and the USA, through the introduction of insulin therapy, the pursuit of self-control methods and the development of training and education of people with diabetes to encourage autonomy in their self-management.

This is a well-balanced narrative, highlighting the impact that international and global events can have on research activity, whether it be around issues of access to suitable research facilities and funding, or the role that mentoring, collaboration and support can have on the ultimate success of the outcome.

Development of new treatments and management, in this case for diabetes, requires an understanding of basic science, inspiration, dedication and hard work, but attempts and failures can be time-consuming and potentially cause life-threatening mistakes as is described in this book. Delving into the historical background of research activities can provide important lessons. There is a great deal to learn from the past, not only for diabetes but also likely to be applicable to the current global pandemic that is affecting all our lives.

This book is undoubtedly targeted at the diabetologist and associate diabetes specialist, but worth the attention of ophthalmologists, optometrists and retinal screeners with a particular interest in diabetes, and those involved in clinical research. A thoroughly excellent read and highly recommended.

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Shirley Hancock

Special interest in anterior and posterior ophthalmic imaging. Birmingham Heartlands Hospital, Birmingham, UK.

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