Hanson, Robert Laird, MD
Epigenetic/Genetic Factors in Diabetic Nephropathy in High-Risk Populations
General Research Subject: Type 2 Diabetes
Type of Grant: ADA-JDRF Genetics of Nephropathy
Project Start Date: January 1, 2012
Project End Date: December 31, 2014
What area of diabetes research does your project cover? What role will this particular project play in preventing, treating and/or curing diabetes?
The project is designed to study the role of "epigenetic" factors in the development of diabetic kidney disease. "Epigenetic" factors are changes that occur in DNA which do not affect the basic DNA sequence, but which can effect how genes are expressed. These changes may occur in response to environmental exposure or due to other genetic factors. Epigenetic changes can persist for a long time, and can be inherited across generations, though they are not inherited in the same way as the more familiar DNA sequence. Some previous studies have suggested that these "epigenetic" changes may play an important role in the development of diabetic kidney disease and other complications of diabetes, but this has not been thoroughly studied. In this project, we will look at a particular type of molecule, called a "methyl" group that binds to the DNA. We will examine whether this "methylation" occurs at many different sites across the DNA sequence in people at risk for developing diabetic kidney disease and we will determine if this predicts who develops kidney disease. This will help determine whether epigenetic factors play a role in the development of diabetic kidney disease, and, ultimately, whether developing treatments to modify the epigenetic factors will treat or prevent kidney disease.
If a person with diabetes were to ask you how your project will help them in the future, how would you respond?
The project will help us to understand the role of "epigenetic" factors in the development of diabetic kidney disease. If "epigenetic" changes in DNA are important in determining who gets kidney disease, then we might be able to design treatments that modify these "epigenetic" factors. We hope that these treatments would help patients with kidney disease or that they would prevent people with diabetes from developing kidney disease. Kidney disease is one of the most devastating complications of diabetes, and improved treatments or prevention would greatly benefit people with diabetes.
Why is it important for you, personally, to become involved in diabetes research? What role will this award play in your research efforts?
As a doctor who has worked with many people with diabetes, I have seen how serious the disease can be. Many of the patients that I have worked with are from populations that have a high risk for diabetes and kidney disease, and kidney disease has a devastating impact on their lives. It is important for research to explore many ways to end the suffering caused by diabetes and kidney disease, and studying the role of "epigenetic" factors is an exciting opportunity to help advance the field. The American Diabetes Association award will allow us to advance our knowledge of the role of "epigenetic" factors in diabetic kidney disease, particularly in people from populations at high risk for this disease. I
In what direction do you see the future of diabetes research going?
I think in the future that diabetes research will require more collaboration between multiple disciplines. Genetic researchers, for example, will need to collaborate with researchers with expertise in behavioral science, pharmacology and clinical medicine to help design the best treatment and preventive strategies. People with diabetes will also play an important role in providing their perspective and experience. This will require researchers to become more attuned to fields that are beyond their expertise, but in the long run, I think it will benefit people with diabetes.
Check out our parent mentor volunteer program full of parents just like you!
Become a Red Strider! Know someone with diabetes? Walk for them!
Every dollar you give can be doubled until May 15th to help Stop Diabetes!
Scroll through our calendar of EXPOs to find out when there will be one near you.
Ditch the chips! We've got recipes for eight healthy snacks you'll love to eat.
Learn what BIG discounts on auto insurance may await you.
Get motivated with our newly revised “I Hate to Exercise” book
Subscribe to our blog! It’s the best way to see what we’re up to at the Association.
If you have diabetes, join us for the ride!
Order your Diabetes Forecast® today! 25 Tips to healthy living. Click here to start.
Check out our site full of vegetarian meal planning ideas!
Find your local office to get involved in your community.
A new tool to increase the convenience of portion management
Get recipes, tips and more! Join the conversation!
Learn more about Dribble to Stop Diabetes