Local Research

Top 5 things to know about the Association's Research:

  1. We have the most comprehensive diabetes research grants program in the country.
  2. Over the years, the Association has invested more than $550 million in diabetes research and provided funding for more than 4,000 research projects.
  3. 100 percent of all allocated gifts to support diabetes research are used only to support research.
  4. For all donations $50,000 or above, donors can select the specific research project that they would like to fund.
  5. According to the 2002-2007 Research Program Assessment, 97 percent of researchers supported by the Association continued their careers in diabetes research.

To learn about the Association's nationally funded research, visit www.diabetes.org/research-and-practice/.

Meet our 2014 Locally Funded Researchers

Amisha Wallia, MD (Northwestern University - Chicago)
A study to evaluate glycemic control on outcomes following liver transplantation
General Research Subject: Type 2 Diabetes
Focus: Clinical Therapeutics/New Technology\Pharmacologic Treatment of Diabetes or its Complications, Health Care Delivery/Economics, Transplantation.

Liver transplant is the second largest organ transplant group nationwide and there are data to suggest that hyperglycemia (elevated glucose levels) in those with and without diabetes causes harmful effects on the transplanted liver graft function and increases morbidity and poor clinical outcomes. The goal of this research is to examine the effects of insulin therapy for hyperglycemia on persons undergoing liver transplantation in the hospital setting to assess the efficacy and safety of such practices. This research can potentially benefit all patients who are at high risk for diabetes or high blood glucose levels following surgery by examining care in the inpatient setting and assessing quality and safety in transitional care settings.

Franck Mauvis-Jarvis, PhD (Northwestern University-Chicago)
Role of estrogens in suppressing hyperglucagonemia in diabetes
General Research Subject: Both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes
Focus: Clinical Therapeutics/New Technology/Pharmacologic Treatment of Diabetes or its Complications, Integrated.

In type 1 and type 2 diabetes, there is excessive production of the hyperglycemic islet hormone glucagon. This "hyperglucagonemia" is a major driver of the increased blood glucose and uncontrolled diabetes. Thus, developing new medicines to suppress hyperglucagonemia is a major therapeutic strategy in diabetes. Restorning insulin's ability to suppress glucagon secretion from alpha-cells is a major therapeutic avenue. This study believes that estrogen can restore the action of insulin in alpha-cells to suppress hyperglucagonemia in diabetes.

Ishwar Radhakrishnan, PhD (Northwestern University)
Transcription Regulation of Gluconeogenic Genes by CREB/ATF and TORC Factors
General Research Subject: Type 2 Diabetes
Focus: Signal Transduction (Non-Insulin Action).

Dr. Radhakrishnan's research project can help find a way to manage diabetes. Detailed knowledge of how proteins interact at the molecular level have been vital to drug development programs both in the pharmaceutical industry as well as in the academia. This research could have a direct bearing on the discovery of compounds that block relevant protein-protein interactions and help regulate glucose levels in the body.

Joanne Kramer Tobacman, MD (University of Illinois - Chicago)
Role of common food additive carrageenan in etiology of Type 2 diabetes
General Research Subject: Type 2 Diabetes
Focus: Insulin Action/Insulin Resistance, Insulin Action/Signal Transduction, Nutrition-Clinical.

This project covers the relationship between intake of the common food additive carrageenan and the development of glucose intolerance. By attention to the impact of a specific, common dietary ingredient, new interventions to prevent and treat diabetes may be developed.

Jose Oberholzer, MD (University of Illinois - Chicago)
Microfluidic-based strategies for hypoxia preconditioning of microencapsulated human islets for transplantation
General Research Subject: Type 1 Diabetes
Focus: Immunology, Islet Biology, Islet Biology/Apoptosis, Transpalantation.

Islet transplantation is a promising therapy for type 1 diabetes. However, current clinical trials have shown that an obstacle to widespread implementation is lack of islet for transplantation and long-term immunosuppression for graft maintenance. One promising strategy is the microencapsulation of islets. This study seeks an understanding of functioning of microencapsulated human islets under normal conditions and stressed low oxygen conditions in order to develop strategies to improve microencapsulation as a clinical avenue.

J. Michael O'Donnell, MD (University of Illinois - Chicago)
13C NMR studies of lipoprotein metabolism in diabetes cardiomyopathy
General Research Subject: Type 2 Diabetes
Focus: Diabetic Dyslipidemia, Integrated Physiology/Fatty Acid Metabolism, Integrated Physiology/Muscle.

Diabetes cardiomyopathy is a clinical myocardial condition characterized by heart dysfunction. It is the major cause of death in diabetes, and accounts for some 50% of all fatalities. In diabetes, fat uptake into the heart increases significantly, and it accumulates in the cells as large droplets. Too much fat results in both high levels of toxic molecules and a loss in force production. The knowledge of why fats accumulate in the heart may provide insight into novel therapies for treatment of heart disease in diabetes.

Ronald N. Cohen, MD (The University of Chicago - Chicago)
Role of SMRT in the adipocyte
General Research Subject: Type 2 Diabetes
Focus: Adipocytes, Obesity, Obesity\Animal Models, Obesity\Pathogenesis.

Obesity and type 2 diabetes have risen to epidemic levels in the United States and elsewhere. We have shown that a protein called SMRT regulates obesity, insulin sensitivity in fat storage cells (adipocytes), and also fat accumulation in the liver ("fatty liver"). The proposed experiments will define the role of SMRT specifically in fat cells, and will determine whether SMRT could be a useful therapeutic target in the treatment of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

Shunbin Xu, PhD (Rush University Medical Center - Chicago)
microRNA- 146 in Diabetic Retinopathy
General Research Subject: Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes
Focus: Complications, Complications/Ocular, Signal Transduction (Non-Insulin Action), Signal Transduction (Non-Insulin Action)/ Cytokines and Apoptosis, Signal Transduction (Non-Insulin Action)/Transscriptional Regulation.

This research aims to prove miR-146 is involved in the genesis of diabetic retinopahy, and is a new therapeutic target for the treatment of early diabetic retinopathy. Therefore, this research may lead to new drug development for treatment of diabetic retinopathy.