Islets of youth

In the not-too-distant future, cells taken from patients with diabetes will be “re-programmed” in the laboratory to create new insulin-producing beta cells that potentially can cure their disease. It sounds like science fiction, but researchers are quickly learning the genetic keys to this developmental path.  read article

Pathway to a cure

One step into Chris Wright’s Vanderbilt office, and it’s clear that this guy is fond of frogs. Perched on a long low bookcase are all manner of them — wooden, ceramic, stuffed. The figures join a striking series of models that show, in hand-painted detail, stages of the developing frog embryo.  read article

A disparate burden

Minority groups in the United States are disproportionately affected by diabetes and complications of the disease. Nashville's two medical schools, Vanderbilt and Meharry, have forged partnerships with community health centers and public health programs to improve treatment, prevention and patient education. A report from the front lines of diabetes care.  read article

A disordered thermostat

The incidence of type 2 diabetes is skyrocketing throughout the world, and is closely associated with its companion epidemic—obesity. Recent advances in imaging and genetics—from two-photon microscopy to &quotkknock-out&quot mice—are helping scientists understand the complexity of metabolism, and what can happen when the body's energy system is thrown out of balance.  read article

Oscar Crofford: On the horns of a revolution

Oscar Crofford set out to bring scientific rigor to the care of patients with diabetes. Along the way, the persistent, determined Vanderbilt professor helped put diabetes on the federal government's agenda, and directed a landmark clinical trial that established the value of aggressive blood glucose control to reduce the risk of complications from the disease.  read article

Forging new partnerships

Allen Spiegel, M.D., is an internationally recognized endocrinologist whose research has helped define the genetic basis of several endocrine diseases. A former director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, Spiegel currently is dean of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University.  read article

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease characterized by high levels of glucose in the blood. It results from defects in the action or secretion of insulin, a hormone secreted by the pancreas that promotes glucose uptake by the tissues, where it is used for energy.  read article

A rich heritage of diabetes research

One of the pivotal events of the 20th Century was the discovery of insulin in 1921 by researchers at the University of Toronto. Within a year, diabetes had been transformed from a hopeless, wasting disease into one that could be controlled through the injections of a miraculous pancreatic extract.  read article

Vanderbilt diabetes clinic provides “one-stop shopping”

Vanderbilt University Medical Center, site of the nation’s first federally funded diabetes research center, in 2005 launched a comprehensive program to more fully integrate diabetes care, training and clinical research.  read article

International group changes the way science is done

Based at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, the Beta Cell Biology Consortium includes researchers from more than a dozen universities around the world and from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, which funds the effort.  read article

Political “chill” slows scientific progress

Their very name raises hackles—embryonic stem cells. These are the cells that populate the early embryo and give rise to all of the body’s tissues. These are the cells that can be grown in virtually limitless quantities in the laboratory. And these are the cells that scientists hope will someday provide replacements for cells damaged in diabetes and other disease states.  read article

A normal life

Two years ago, 10-year-old Katie Rush was having frequent and unsettling episodes of hypoglycemia – low blood sugar.

“I’d just feel really sleepy and hungry,” says the active Nashville seventh grader, who’d had type 1 diabetes since she was 3. “I wouldn’t remember anything that happened before I got low. I just felt really bad.”

Fortunately, at that time, insulin pumps were beginning to be prescribed to children, and Katie was fitted with one in the summer of 2001. Since then, “we’ve only had five or six of the kind of spells we’d been having twice a week,” says her mother, Dr. Meg Rush, assistant professor of Pediatrics at Vanderbilt.  read article

Grabbing the golden ring

A century ago a diagnosis of diabetes was a death knell. There was little a physician could offer in the way of help, other than home remedies and desperation diets that only slowed the inexorable wasting of flesh to skin and bone. Opium dulled the anguish.  read article

Junk food in schools

Schools nationwide are packed with vending machines that provide schools with extra funding. These machines are often stocked full of sugary sweets at the expense of students’ health.  read article

Am i at risk for type 2 diabetes?

To assess your risk for type 2 diabetes, check each item that applies to you:

__ I am over 45 years of age. __ I am overweight (see below). __ I have a parent, brother, or sister with diabetes. __ My family background is African American, American Indian, Asian American, Pacific Islander, Hispanic American/Latino. __ I have had gestational diabetes, or I gave birth to at least one baby weighing more than 9 pounds. __ My blood pressure is 140/90 or higher, or I have been told that I have high blood pressure. __ My cholesterol levels are not normal. My HDL cholesterol (“good” cholesterol) is 35 or lower, or my triglyceride level is 250 or higher. __ I am fairly inactive. I exercise fewer than three times a week.

Of these risk factors, being overweight tops the list.  read article