Building a Rewarding Career in Diabetes Research

A key part of the American Diabetes Association’s mission is to fund research. It’s vitally important that we maintain a pipeline of scientists dedicated to this disease. Stopping diabetes means better treatments, fewer complications and ultimately a cure — and we won’t get there without research.

Our research program is designed to complement that of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) by supporting new investigators and new ideas. With our support, they often go on to obtain more substantial federal funding to keep fighting against diabetes. It is our hope that the young researchers we fund today will become the well-established diabetes researchers of tomorrow and enjoy long, fulfilling careers in the field.

Let’s meet some of the Association investigators who are pursuing careers in diabetes research!

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Costacou, Tina“Recent research has shown that approximately 43 percent of individuals with type 1 diabetes and 36 percent of people with type 2 diabetes have a specific genotype (inherited gene, in this case called Haptoglobin 2-2) that puts them at much greater risk for cardiovascular disease. Interestingly, daily vitamin E supplements can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by 53 percent in people with type 2 diabetes who have this genotype.

“Since 2010, our team’s purpose has been to establish whether this finding also applies to people with type 1 diabetes. This project really emphasizes the idea that not all people benefit from the same treatment the same way. We need to work toward the goal of individualizing treatment for people with diabetes.

“Our research team is very fortunate to have this pilot study supported by the Association, as it will provide us with the data needed to secure larger grants for this exciting subject matter. The Association’s research priorities do not lie with merely one aspect of diabetes science, which is why the organization is ideal for supporting clinical and translational research.”

Tina Costacou, PhD, Clinical/Translational Research Awardee
University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pa.

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Hart, Chantelle “My American Diabetes Association Junior Faculty Award is providing a very strong foundation for my line of research on the effects of sleep on eating, activity and weight in children. Preliminary findings resulted in my -grant application being recommended for funding through the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). In addition, I was recently invited to NIH to provide a talk on my preliminary findings from this Association grant.”

Chantelle Hart, PhD, Junior Faculty Awardee
The Miriam Hospital, Providence, R.I.

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Qi, Ling“In the last three years, we have published a total of 14 papers! All of these studies have contributed significantly to our understanding of the development of obesity and type 2 diabetes, an achievement that would not have been possible without the support from the American Diabetes Association. I am deeply grateful for their generous support, which has made a significant impact on my career in this tough economic time. Thank you!”

Ling Qi, PhD, Junior Faculty Awardee
Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.

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Janet Snell-Bergeon“We know the risk of cardiovascular disease is higher in women with type 1 diabetes than in men. It is already evident that even very young women with type 1 diabetes have stiffness in their arteries. Past research suggests that this is due in part to sex hormone and growth factor fluctuations.

“My research aims to discover more about the differences in sex hormone levels between women with and without type 1 diabetes. I will observe early signs of blood vessel damage in 164 women, ages 18-40, over an entire menstrual cycle — instead of at only one point in time, as in previous tests.

“A greater understanding of the gender differences in type 1 will allow for improved treatments for the prevention of complications, reducing the costs of this disease and the increasing the healthy years of life.

“This has been a labor of love, and I am extremely thankful that the Association’s Research Foundation helped support me throughout the first half of my career in diabetes science. I believe the research that I am doing is important for the health of all women, especially those who have diabetes.”

Janet Snell-Bergeon, PhD, MPH, Junior Faculty Awardee
University of Colorado Denver, Aurora, Colo.

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We are ever-thankful to researchers like Tina, Chantelle, Ling and Janet who study diabetes, each day bringing us one step closer to stopping it.

To learn more about the American Diabetes Association’s research program and how you can support it, visit our website.

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2 Responses to Building a Rewarding Career in Diabetes Research

  1. Kathleen Jakobsen says:

    My son is six years old and he is a type 1 diabetic. Luke was diagnosed at 3 1/2 years old. My daughter is now almost four and she is tested yearly through the TrialNet program. As a middle school science teacher for the past 16 years, I go in to my classroom every day with the hope that future researchers, like those highlighted in this article, are sitting in front of me. Your work matters for my son, for my daughter, for me, but also for the next generation. Your work is part of an ever expanding effort to make sense of the great unknowns in medicine. Thank you and carry on!

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