NIDDK Director's Update Fall 2013

Director's Note

We are so glad to be back in our offices, labs and with patients after the federal shutdown, and to be back supporting so many important research efforts. As many of you have experienced firsthand, the impact of a single study can ripple far beyond its primary results. For evidence, just look at the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial/Epidemiology of Diabetes Complications study, the findings from which have meant that millions of people with diabetes may prevent or delay debilitating and often fatal complications from the disease.

Now that study is in its 30th year, and it’s still making waves. At the American Diabetes Association’s annual Scientific Sessions in Chicago in June, researchers presented the study’s latest findings, showing even greater evidence that early intensive blood glucose control to treat type 1 diabetes prevents complications even decades later.

Among the hundreds in the audience of the symposium were many of the Chicago-area participants in the trial, two of whom you can read about later in this issue. Ninety-five percent of the original DCCT participants still living continue to participate in the trial 30 years later. These very special people show how participating in a research study can improve your own health and that of millions around the world.

Like DCCT/EDIC, the Chronic Renal Insufficiency Cohort (CRIC), now in its 10th year, proves the monumental power of federal funding for biomedical research. CRIC’s goal is to better understand the effect of reduced kidney function and of chronic kidney disease on other illnesses.

CRIC findings have already linked a high level of fibroblast growth factor 23, a hormone that regulates the amount of phosphate in the blood, to significantly increased risk of left ventricular hypertrophy. This summer, the 4,000-participant study expanded recruitment to add 1,500 more people. You can read more about this new effort here.

DCCT/EDIC has shown us that people can live long, healthy lives with type 1 diabetes. CRIC is helping prevent the progression of chronic kidney disease and related illnesses. Both are the kind of trials that large pharmaceutical companies would be reluctant to support. Yet these and other long-term studies are essential for understanding how to better the lifelong outcomes for people with chronic diseases. These are just two examples among so much vital research that could only be accomplished with the support of NIH.

Griffin P. Rodgers, M.D., M.A.C.P.
Director, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

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