American Diabetes Association Announces Research Grant Award Recipients

Alexandria, Virginia
February 2, 2016

Six researchers each receive $1.625 million in “Pathway to Stop Diabetes®” awards

The American Diabetes Association has awarded six scientists prestigious Pathway to Stop Diabetes grant awards. Each award comes with $1.625 million in grant funding over a five to seven year grant term, along with career support and resources so the scientists can focus their considerable talents on transformational research approaches to treat and stop diabetes.

This is the third year the Association has provided grants though the Pathway to Stop Diabetes research initiative, which is designed to encourage and enable brilliant researchers to commit their careers to diabetes. Pathway grants provide investigators with freedom, autonomy, financial support and professional resources to set them on the road to breakthrough discoveries. Program sponsors Sanofi, AstraZeneca, the Eli Lilly and Company Foundation and Novo Nordisk, as well as numerous other generous corporations, individuals and foundations, have donated more than $40 million toward the effort.

"Diabetes is a complex, multifactorial disease that presents significant challenges for discovering methods for prevention, treatment and ultimately cures. We need to recruit the best minds to pursue answers to all of the complexities of diabetes and diabetes-related complications so that we can end this devastating disease," said Desmond Schatz, MD, President, Medicine and Science, American Diabetes Association. "Pathway to Stop Diabetes brings novel and exciting approaches to solving challenging areas in our field. The scientists supported by this program thus far are already making tremendous contributions to the field."

The recipients of this year's awards are:

  • Sui Wang, PhD, Harvard Medical School, in Boston, received a Pathway Initiator Award for her basic research project titled, "Dissection of Gene Regulatory Networks Underlying Diabetic Retinopathy."
  • Phillip James White, PhD, Duke Molecular Physiology Institute, Duke University, in Durham, N.C., received a Pathway Initiator Award for his basic research project titled, "A New Homeostatic Mechanism for Metabolic Control."
  • Daniel J. Ceradini, MD, FACS, Wyss Department of Plastic Surgery, New York University Langone Medical Center, received a Pathway Accelerator Award for his translational research project titled, "Therapeutically Targeting Keap1/Nrf2 Dysfunction in Diabetes."
  • Zachary A. Knight, PhD, University of California, San Francisco, received a Pathway Accelerator Award for his basic research project titled, "Reinvestigation of the Arcuate Feeding Circuit."
  • Praveen Sethupathy, PhD, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, in Chapel Hill, N.C., received a Pathway Accelerator Award for his basic research project titled, "Systems Approach to Defining Genetic Regulation of Intestinal Physiology and Gut Microbiota in Diet-Induced Obesity."
  • Andrew M. Scharenberg, MD, Seattle Children's Hospital and Seattle Children's Research Institute, received a Pathway Visionary Award for his basic research project titled, "Regulatory T-Cell Stabilization via Gene Editing as Novel Therapy for Type 1 Diabetes."

Nearly 30 million adults and children in the nation live with diabetes, which is the leading cause of working age blindness, kidney failure and amputations. Another 86 million adults across the United States have prediabetes and are at high risk for developing diabetes.

"Sanofi commends the newest class of Pathway to Stop Diabetes award recipients on their pursuit of innovative solutions for diabetes management," said Andrew Purcell, U.S. Diabetes Lead, Sanofi US. "We are proud to support such a program that shares our commitment to addressing the real needs of people living with diabetes."

Pathway to Stop Diabetes focuses on attracting the most creative and brilliant minds to diabetes research and helping them pursue their discoveries, in essence creating a human Pathway to transformative science. The goal is to extend support to individuals just starting their independent research careers, as well as to exceptional scientists already established in other fields of research, who want to apply their expertise to diabetes research.

"AstraZeneca recognizes the need for new approaches to diabetes management and the importance of addressing the diabetes epidemic," said Topher Brooke, Vice President, U.S. Diabetes, AstraZeneca. "We look forward to the progress being made by the Pathway award researchers as they work to discover innovative treatment options and solutions for people living with diabetes and those who are at risk for developing diabetes."

The recipients of the grants are chosen by a mentor advisory group comprised of the preeminent scientists and leaders in diabetes research. They look for the core elements for exceptional science: rigorous thought processes, keen intellect and capacity for innovation, creativity and productivity.

The advisors also provide the Pathway grant recipients with mentorship and scientific and professional guidance over the course of their awards. In addition to the substantial and flexible financial support and mentorship, Pathway provides grant recipients with networks for communication and collaboration, special symposia and speaking engagements, and unique collaborative opportunities that will accelerate the advancement and translation of their science and lead to breakthrough discoveries.

"We cannot underestimate the importance of comprehensive and innovative scientific research in our industry," said Robert Heine, MD, Distinguished Lilly Scholar, Lilly Diabetes. "Thanks to these awards, science takes another important step forward as we seek to further understand diabetes and its effects on patients around the world."

The 11 Pathway scientists who received grants in the past two years already have made significant contributions to the field of diabetes. They have filed two new patents, published 11 new scientific papers, submitted an additional 12 manuscripts for publication and delivered 50 conference presentations and 56 invited lectures. Pathway Scientist Zhen Gu, PhD, was named one of the MIT Technology Review's "35 Innovators Under 35," and three grant recipients have earned faculty promotions.

"As a company dedicated to research and innovation in diabetes care to continually improve the lives of those patients living with diabetes, we are proud to support promising researchers through the Pathway to Stop Diabetes program," says Todd Hobbs, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Novo Nordisk Inc.

To learn more about the Pathway to Stop Diabetes, visit

About the American Diabetes Association

Nearly half of American adults have diabetes or prediabetes; more than 30 million adults and children have diabetes; and every 21 seconds, another individual is diagnosed with diabetes in the U.S. Founded in 1940, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) is the nation’s leading voluntary health organization whose mission is to prevent and cure diabetes, and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes. The ADA drives discovery by funding research to treat, manage and prevent all types of diabetes, as well as to search for cures; raises voice to the urgency of the diabetes epidemic; and works to safeguard policies and programs that protect people with diabetes. In addition, the ADA supports people living with diabetes, those at risk of developing diabetes, and the health care professionals who serve them through information and programs that can improve health outcomes and quality of life. For more information, please call the ADA at 1-800-DIABETES (1-800-342-2383) or visit Information from both of these sources is available in English and Spanish. Find us on Facebook (American Diabetes Association), Twitter (@AmDiabetesAssn) and Instagram (@AmDiabetesAssn)