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The PCDS Lifetime Achievement Award to Professor Kamlesh Khunti

Sam Seidu
GP and NIHR Clinical Lecturer, University of Leicester
A tribute to Professor Kamlesh Khunti after he is awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Primary Care Diabetes Society.

Listening to Dr Clare Hambling present the PCDS Lifetime Achievement Award to Kamlesh Khunti during our 2021 National Conference was very emotional. Clare’s words summed up all of what those of us who have worked closely with Kamlesh really think of him. This award is one of many he has received for his contribution to the field of medicine. In 2019, Professor Khunti was given the South Asian Health Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his outstanding contribution to improve the health of South Asian people through cutting-edge research, which has also influenced frontline diabetes care across the world. He was also appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the Queen’s New Year Honours this year for services to health.

Kamlesh was one of the founding members of the Primary Care Diabetes Society and, since its inception, he has been a formidable figure in the group, championing research, education and clinical care for people with diabetes. His work has influenced national and international guidelines on the screening and management of people with diabetes. He is known not only for his work in diabetes and cardiovascular medicine but, at the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, he chose to refocus his research efforts on the disease. As a member of UK Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) and Chair of its Ethnicity Subgroup, he led a programme of work on the risks and impacts of COVID-19 for minority ethnic groups. 

Kamlesh is also Director of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) East Midlands, The Centre for Ethnic Health Research and the Leicester Real World Evidence Unit. He is an NIHR Senior Investigator and Principal Investigator on several major national and international studies, and has published over 1000 peer-reviewed articles. He is one of a very small number of GP researchers anywhere in the world with an h-index, measuring productivity and citation impact, above 100. He is currently ranked as number one for type 2 diabetes research by Expertscape, the world’s leading index of academic achievement and expertise in healthcare, based on scientific publications.

Professor Khunti is a Fellow of The Academy of Medical Sciences and is currently an advisor to the Department of Health (DH), a Member of the International KDIGO (Kidney Disease Improving Global Outcomes) on diabetes and chronic kidney disease. He is a Clinical Advisor for NICE and Steering Board Member of the Primary Care Diabetes Europe Study Group. He is the NIHR ARC Theme Lead for Multimorbidity and for Ethnicity and Diversity. His research leadership focus is not only in addressing health inequalities for people with multimorbidity, but in developing people from diverse backgrounds and giving them the opportunity to take up leadership roles across the NHS and the University of Leicester. 

He is Chair of the American Diabetes Association’s Overcoming Therapeutic Inertia initiative and of the National Diabetes Audit Research Group and Past Chair of both the DH–Royal College of General Practitioners Committee on Classification of Diabetes and the NICE Guidelines on Prevention of Diabetes. He is also Honorary Visiting Professorial Fellow to the Department of General Practice, University of Melbourne. In addition, he is Co-Director of the MSc course in Diabetes at the University of Leicester. This is impact!

Despite all these achievements and awards, when he is asked to introduce himself at meetings, Kamlesh always says, “I am Kamlesh Khunti, a GP from Leicester”. This always leaves people silent and waiting for more, but that is it. He does not go further. What a role model for aspiring clinical researchers!

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