Gardner, Thomas W.
Evaluation of diabetic retinal sensory neuropathy
General Research Subject: Type 1 Diabetes
Focus: Complications\Neuropathy, Complications\Ocular, Insulin Action\Metabolism
Type of Grant: ADA-Merck Clinical/Translational Postdoctoral Fellowship
Project Start Date: July 1, 2011
Project End Date: June 30, 2013
The overall goal of this ADA-Merck Clinical/Translational Science Postdoctoral Fellowship is to develop improved means to detect early stage dysfunction of the retina in patients with diabetes with the long-term goal of maintaining good vision. The specific objective is to quantify early pre-clinical retinal dysfunction in a well-characterized cohort of patients with Type 1 diabetes who are undergoing evaluation of cardiac autonomic neuropathy (CAN). The proposal will provide a strong translational research experience for Max Stem, MD, under the aegis of a team of experts in clinical and laboratory aspects of diabetes. The project will test the hypothesis that Type 1 diabetes causes an early sensory neuropathy of the retina concomitant with other sensory neuropathies. This concept of diabetic retinopathy is relatively new, but is based on substantial animal and human studies that indicate an important role for involvement of the nerve cells of the retina. Early diagnosis and treatment when patients still have good vision may reduce the need for destructive treatments such as laser and vitrectomy. The post-doctoral fellow candidate, Dr. Max Stem, is perfectly suited for this study by having experience in internal medicine and career plans in ophthalmology. He will be mentored in a unique inter-disciplinary translational research environment that will facilitate a new approach to diabetes complications.
Mentor: Gardner, Thomas, MD Postdoctoral Fellow: Stem, Maxwell
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 focused on understanding the early manifestations of diabetic retinopathy. Our work indicates that diabetes causes a form of sensory neuropathy in the retina, analogous to other sensory neuropathies in persons with diabetes. We will collaborate with Dr. Rodice Pop-Busui to evaluate persons who have Type 1 diabetes without known complications and whose systemic health is very well characterized. In addition, Dr. Subramaniam Pennathur will perform detailed metabolomics analyses. Through this interdisciplinary approach we hope to understand the events that lead to early diabetes-induced retinal damage in hopes of improving the ability to preserve vision in persons with diabetes. This project serves as a training vehicle for Dr. Maxwell Stem, who will be mentored by Drs. Gardner, Pop-Busui, and Pennathur to gain broad understanding of the pathophysiology of diabetes complications and of clinical research dedicated to help persons with diabetes.
If a person with diabetes were to ask you how your project will help them in the future, how would you respond?
This work is designed to identify and treat the earliest aspects of diabetes-induced retinal damage so it can be treated while vision remains intact, rather than waiting for advanced lesions that require laser treatment or vitrectomy surgery.
Why is it important for you, personally, to become involved in diabetes research? What role will this award play in your research efforts?
Diabetes research is my personal passion because my two brothers have Type 1 diabetes.
Diabetes is my professional passion because many of my patients suffer from it.
In what direction do you see the future of diabetes research going?
Complications research is moving to earlier diagnosis and treatment, and
better understanding of the metabolic influences that cause organ
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