Issue 1 • 2022
© 2022 The Royal Australasian College of Physicians

Professor Tim Davis presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Australian Diabetes Society

In this edition, we speak to Professor Tim Davis, an RACP Fellow awarded for his research into diabetes – a disease that affects around 442 million people worldwide.
Professor Davis is a general physician, endocrinologist and tropical medicine specialist, and Professor at The University of Western Australia. He has committed a lifetime of research to diabetes, beginning in 1978 at Oxford University.

In 1993, he established the Fremantle Diabetes Study (FDS) alongside his wife, Associate Professor Wendy Davis, in an attempt to understand how diabetes affects both individuals and communities.
This community-based natural history study is unique and internationally recognised for leading to many discoveries relating to diabetes. To date, these discoveries have been shared globally through more than 170 peer-reviewed and recognised publications.
Over 3000 people with diabetes have been recruited by the FDS. The study records data from questionnaires, clinical examinations, blood samples and special tests. The data is amalgamated with additional patient-level information from the WA Data Linkage System so as to understand how diabetes affects people and what the implications are for the community.
The FDS outputs have included a cardiovascular disease risk calculator for Australians with type 2 diabetes, in addition to identifying the best ways of monitoring glucose levels.
Professor Davis had a fundamental role in the conducting of clinical trials in diabetes, spanning trials he has designed himself and multinational studies of new therapies. Furthermore, Professor Davis has taken an active role in the management of patients at Fremantle Hospital and in the wider community.
Professor Davis now aims to secure future funding for the FDS. Doing so will enable emerging clinical researchers on his team to assist Professor Davis with the increasing case numbers, especially amongst young people, and the substantial changes in treatment.
‘I’ve been researching diabetes at UWA for more than 30 years now and have been very fortunate to have worked with many skilled and dedicated staff,’ Professor Davis said.
‘My research unit has received great support from the University and Fremantle Hospital, and funding bodies such as NHMRC have made our work possible. Despite having a chronic disease with a substantial personal burden, the participants in our studies have been willing contributors. The success of the FDS is a testament to their involvement.’