N.C. A&T, Consortium Partners Awarded $5.7M Diabetes Center Grant

By Jamie Crockett / 04/28/2020 College of Health and Human Sciences

EAST GREENSBORO, N.C. (April 28, 2020) – The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Disease (NIDDK) at the National Institutes of Health awarded $5.7 million to North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and three North Carolina Diabetes Research Center (NCDRC) consortium partners. The award will support shared technological infrastructure for advancing innovative diabetes research and fostering interinstitutional collaborations in North Carolina.

“We are excited to be a part of the NCDRC consortium and for this award – which represents several years of hard work on the part of diabetes researchers across our state,” said Elimelda Moige Ongeri, Ph.D., professor and associate dean of research and innovation in the College of Health and Human Sciences. “The future of biomedical research is team science and this regional effort is a great example of what can be achieved when we work together.” 

The award will support four Cores that leverage the unique strengths at each NCDRC institution, making resources available to diabetes investigators on all four campuses. N.C. A&T will be home to the Enrichment/Community Engagement Core led by Ongeri. The university will serve as host for the annual diabetes research symposium and lead the efforts to engage stakeholders from minority-serving institutions in the state of North Carolina. Wake Forest, the lead institution for the P30 award, is led by Donald McClain, M.D., Ph.D., and will be home to the Genomics/Proteomics Core. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, led by Dr. John Buse, M.D., Ph.D., will be home to the Advanced Clinical Studies Methods Core. Duke University, led by Dr. Dave D’Alessio, M.D., will be home to the Metabolomics Core.

“The funding is going to allow us to bring a wide variety of resources to take on this horrible disease, including resources for N.C. A&T researchers and representatives from underserved populations,” said Ongeri. “We will be able to provide professional development and mentoring programs for graduate students, postdoctoral researchers and junior faculty members.” 

Diabetes and diabetes-associated health disparities are priority research areas at N.C. A&T. Diabetes is the third leading cause of death in the country and is a multifaceted disease. Complications include chronic kidney disease, cardiovascular disease, retinopathy, which causes blindness, and nerve damage, which impairs wound healing leading to amputations. 

The American Diabetes Association estimates 53,000 people in North Carolina are diagnosed with diabetes every year. Minority populations are disproportionately affected by diabetes across the nation. African Americans are twice as likely to suffer from diabetes and diabetes-related disorders than their non-Hispanic Caucasian counterparts. According to the Centers for Disease Control’s recent National Diabetes Statistics Report, the incidence of new cases of type 2 diabetes among African American adolescents in 2015 was nearly eight times higher than non-Hispanic Caucasians.

In addition to the four core research areas, the award will support a robust pilot funding program designed to bring new investigators and young scientists to the diabetes field, enhance connectivity in the research community and foster new advancements in basic and translational diabetes research. Four of the pilot projects supported by the NCDRC over the past two cycles included multidisciplinary teams with N.C. A&T investigators.

The grant builds on ongoing substantial research activities at the four institutions supported by $64.5 million in funding. N.C. A&T is also a full partner in the North Carolina Translational Sciences (NC TraCS) Institute, which aims to overcome barriers that delay research efforts.

Media Contact Information: jicrockett@ncat.edu

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