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Vanderbiltís TrialNet team includes (seated, from left) Dan Moore, M.D., Ph.D., Eric Pittel, Margo Black, B.S.N., R.N., and (standing, from left) James Thomas, M.D., Anne Brown, M.S.N., R.N., and Bill Russell, M.D. (photo by Mary Donaldson)

Diabetes effort gains new status

BY: CAROLE BARTOO

10/16/2009 - Vanderbilt has been selected as one of the primary clinical centers for the Type 1 Diabetes TrialNet, a consortium of 14 centers in the United States and five international centers funded jointly by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and private diabetes foundations.

The goal is to find ways to prevent, slow or reverse the progression of type 1 diabetes. Earlier this year, the NIH had an open grant competition for sites to serve as Clinical Centers in the TrialNet consortium. Vanderbilt was selected as one of two new sites to join the consortium.

Bill Russell, M.D., director of the Division of Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes and principal investigator for the Vanderbilt TrialNet center, said that Vanderbilt was chosen for a number of reasons — it has one of the largest pediatric diabetes programs in the nation, providing care to almost 2,000 children, and it also has the ability to contribute to the scientific direction of TrialNet because of its clinical and research structure.

“We decided we would do this for our patients, because it was important to them to have the opportunity to participate in these important clinical trials to prevent or slow type 1 diabetes,” Russell said.

“At the same time, we knew that if TrialNet saw the kind of support we have here at Vanderbilt, they would see how Vanderbilt will contribute to the success of this clinical research.”

James Ward Thomas II, M.D., director of the Division of Rheumatology, is a co-investigator in the TrialNet center. Vanderbilt's grant application also benefited from the strong research efforts and support in the Department of Pediatrics, the NIH-funded Diabetes Research and Training Center, and the Vanderbilt Institute for Clinical and Translational Research.

“This typifies Vanderbilt's approach to provide state of the art care while participating in clinical research,” said Alvin Powers, M.D., director of the Vanderbilt Diabetes Center, which oversees Vanderbilt's clinical care and research efforts related to diabetes.

“The Eskind Diabetes Clinic is designed to promote this concept, with integrated staff and resources. There are few centers anywhere quite like it.”

TrialNet staff is housed within the Vanderbilt Eskind Diabetes clinic area.

“If we were not located just down the hall from the clinic, our success in enrolling patients in TrialNet simply would not have been possible,” Russell said.

Margo Black, R.N., clinical coordinator for the Vanderbilt TrialNet center, has recruited study participants from throughout the Mid-South. As a result, Vanderbilt TrialNet recruitment is among the highest in the country.

As a TrialNet Clinical Center, Vanderbilt will be involved in a number of new clinical trials over the next five years and will receive annual funding of about $500,000 to support the research.

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