As we celebrate our 60th year, we come prepared, with maturity from lessons learned and humility from understanding the depth of knowledge we have yet to achieve. At the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, these lessons have brought myriad discoveries, from developing heart catheterization techniques that help diagnose circulatory disorders in the 1950s to determining the principles for introducing gene modifications in this century – two Nobel Prize-winning contributions to public health among many.
And at 60, we look ahead to what we need to achieve next.
In our intramural labs and Clinical Center, we strive to move research from bench to bed seamlessly. In December, researchers in Dr. John F. Tisdale’s lab discovered that, for adults with sickle cell disease, a modified blood adult stem-cell transplant regimen effectively reversed the disease in nine of 10 adults. In May, we helped educate women about the long-term risks and follow-up needed after gestational diabetes. In July, Dr. Jeffrey Kopp helped explain a link between higher risk of kidney disease and lower risk of African sleeping sickness. These discoveries are the steps and leaps that lead to better health.
They are steps and leaps best taken together, with intramural and extramural efforts. To that end, our Institute provides thousands of grants to the nation’s most promising researchers. Early this month, for example, the NIDDK-funded African-American Study of Kidney Disease and Hypertension announced the finding that a lower blood pressure goal benefits African-Americans with chronic kidney disease and protein in their urine.
At NIDDK, we now broach our next 60 years with driven focus. We look for opportunities to improve our medical knowledge, to pass on what we’ve learned and to improve the outcome for people dealing with diabetes and digestive and kidney diseases. Our mission: to improve our nation’s health by tackling these challenges head on.
In good health,
Griffin P. Rodgers, M.D., M.A.C.P.
Director, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases