If there were a list of the scientific developments over the last half century that have improved the lives of people with diabetes, one of its striking features would be the number of milestones that involved Professor Harry Keen.
What really made his mark was the Bedford Survey, a project he led in 1962 to try to discover how many people in Bedford had undiagnosed type 2 diabetes.
His team recruited the Girl Guides, Boy Scouts, Women’s Institute and the Round Table to distribute pots to every home in the town and asked every adult to fill a pot with urine.
Remarkably, almost 70% of them did, leading not only to the identification of 250 people with undiagnosed type 2 diabetes, but to the first definition of the pre-diabetic state, which he termed “borderline diabetes”. The study was also the first to identify, at a population level, the relationship between glucose intolerance and risk of cardiovascular disease.