Ding, Eric L., PhD
The Fatty Acid Lipophilic Risk Index for Type 2 Diabetes and Metabolic Risk
General Research Subject: Type 2 Diabetes
Type of Grant: Junior Faculty
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?
Much is still unknown why different fats have different effects on health. This project helps further our understanding by researching a new index of fatty acids that is based on the melting point and fluidity properties of different fats, and evaluate such a 'Lipophilic Index' of fats on diabetes risk. Specifically, the researchers will investigate two sister fat indexes: the dietary Lipophilic Index (LI) of fat fluidity-quality; and Lipophilic Load (LL) of fat quality and quantity.
The investigators shall validate such a new fat index, and study how it relates to risk of diabetes, to obesity, lipids, blood pressure, inflammation, and other metabolic risk factors, as well as how it is affected both diet and by our genes. The investigators will also study how the fat index relates to current dietary patterns and how it compares with standard dietary recommendations. By researching such a new way in which fats may affect diabetes and determine other metabolic risks, the improved knowledge gained from this study will hopefully not only enhance our understanding of the biology of diabetes, but more importantly improve how doctors can give dietary recommendations to prevent diabetes, better recognize who are most at risk of developing diabetes, potentially guide public health policy through better dietary recommendations.
If a person with diabetes were to ask you how your project will help them in the future, how would you respond?
The improved understanding of these biochemical, genetic, and lifestyle risk factors of type 2 diabetes gained from this study will not only enhance our knowledge of the biology of diabetes, but more importantly improve how doctors manage and prevent diabetes, better recognize who are most at risk of developing diabetes, guide public health interventions and policy, as well as expand our knowledge base of ways to prevent diabetes, through new drugs or lifestyle and dietary changes. Overall, our research findings will help us better understand not only the burden of high blood sugar, but also better understand how diabetes works and how it can be possibly prevented in the future.
Why is it important for you, personally, to become involved in diabetes research? What role will this award play in your research efforts?
I'm passionate about diabetes research because 90% of type 2 diabetes are due to such lifestyle factors and thus preventable. It is my career goal to become an independent nutritional epidemiologist uniquely focused on the cutting-edge intersection of translational research -- bringing new etiological discoveries through the rigorously process of evidence-based medicine and into public health prevention and treatment practice. Indeed, developing and translating a new nutritional and biochemical risk index, at such biomedical and public health crossroads, from the realm of investigative research to clinical risk stratification and public health recommendations is a long and interdisciplinary scientific process, requiring the development of both the investigator and the evidence-based clinical research to support a novel diabetes etiology pathway. Because translational research requires multiple stages of development, rigorous validation, causal etiology, clinical prediction, and public health practice for prevention--all of these highly divergent investigative approaches are necessary to become an independent investigator.
In this career development award, I will need to gain broader interdisciplinary experience in these translational research areas in order to become an independent investigator for bringing new nutrition and disease innovations from "bench-to-bedside" clinical and public health practice. All of these objectives will bring me closer to achieving my above long-term objectives and goal to become a leading translational researcher active at the cross-roads of diabetes etiology, risk prediction, population burden, and prevention.
In what direction do you see the future of diabetes research going?
In the future, research will require much more detailed understanding of the complexities of diet, exercise, and metabolic factors are needed, in particular the direction and magnitude of specific dietary association, the causal role of certain metabolic factors which we can learn from genetics, the specific dose-response relationships of physical activity, the differences in types of physical activity, and the relative contribution of different lifestyle factors have on total aggregate disease burden. Such knowledge together can lead to population prevention of obesity and type 2 diabetes by informing us of optimal approaches to lifestyle recommendations, clinical treatment interventions, public health intervention programs, and public policies for reducing obesity diabetes burden.
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