Diabetes research center

New diabetes research center to address disease, disparities

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Washington University in St. Louis has received a five-year, $3 million grant to establish a new center to develop better ways to prevent and treat type 2 diabetes in high-risk patients, including American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Funding for the Center for Diabetes Translation Research comes from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Washington University is one of seven institutions awarded funding to establish this type of center.

“The center is a unique opportunity to make sure cutting-edge science has an impact on real-world settings,” says Debra Haire-Joshu, PhD, professor of public health at the university’s Brown School and the School of Medicine and director of the new center. “This grant will enable us to support research that addresses the root causes of diabetes and disparities.”

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. Millions of Americans have been diagnosed with high blood sugar — a hallmark of the disease — and many more are at risk of the disease because they are older, overweight or have a family history of the disease. Left untreated, high blood sugar can lead to complications such as eye, nerve, kidney and heart damage.

"The Center for Diabetes Translation Research is a unique opportunity to make sure cutting-edge science has an impact on real-world settings."
— Debra Haire-Joshu, PhD

American Indians and Alaska Natives have the highest diabetes prevalence of all U.S. racial and ethnic groups, according to the 7412. The two groups are twice as likely as white adults to suffer from type 2 diabetes.

The center has four cores. The health communication and health literacy core will evaluate the best ways to communicate information to improve diabetes prevention and care. A second core will focus on how to translate research discoveries into better treatments and prevention. Another core will address health and economic policy, and the fourth core will support investigators working with American Indian and Alaska Native communities.

The new center will serve as a resource for investigators at Saint Louis University, the University of Missouri School of Journalism, and the National Congress of American Indians.

“Our goal,” says Haire-Joshu, “is to significantly improve the prevention and care of diabetes in populations at increased risk of this devastating disease.”

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