NIDDK Director's Update Fall 2019

Director's Note

Photo of First in Human Medical Team
NIDDK’s Drs. Griffin P. Rodgers (right) and Lawrence Agodoa (left) recently honored Dr. George Hui (center), a professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and director of the NIDDK-sponsored Pacific Short-Term Research Experience for Underrepresented Persons program. (Photo credit: University of Hawaii, John A. Burns School of Medicine) 

The National Institutes of Health strives to improve the health of the Nation by conducting and supporting medical research. But public health goes beyond borders and, when we look for solutions to advance health, so do we.

At NIDDK, international collaboration opportunities enable our scientists to share their expertise and offer critical insight into diseases and conditions that know no borders. For example, Dr. Anne Sumner, chief of NIDDK’s Section on Ethnicity and Health in the Diabetes, Endocrinology and Obesity Branch, presented her work at the Africa Diabetes Congress in Cameroon in 2016 and has returned to Cameroon and Rwanda five times to speak, tour hospitals, visit medical schools, and advise on clinical study design. Read more about Sumner in the Getting to Know section of this issue.

Also, NIDDK is part of the Human Heredity and Health in Africa (H3Africa) Consortium. As part of that effort, the H3Africa Kidney Disease Research Network was established to study prevalent forms of kidney disease in sub-Saharan Africa and increase the capacity for genetics and genomics research.

Closer to home, we recently honored Dr. George Hui, a professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and director of the NIDDK-sponsored Pacific Short-Term Research Experience for Underrepresented Persons (STEP-UP) program, for his commitment to the program, which reaches students in 13 time zones. Hui joined the STEP-UP team in 2002, and he is responsible for expanding the program to many islands in the Pacific. STEP-UP remains the only formalized biomedical research training program for high school students in the U.S. Pacific territories.

In June, NIDDK Deputy Director Dr. Gregory Germino welcomed Prof. Balram Bhargava, secretary of India’s Department of Health Research and director general of the Indian Council of Medical Research, and others to the 7th meeting of the joint steering committee for the Indo-U.S. Collaboration on Diabetes Research. Read about that meeting in the News Around NIDDK section in this issue.

And as we look to change the world, we also seek ways to improve our own community. I strongly support NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins’ continued commitment to an inclusive and diverse biomedical workforce, including his pledge to help ensure representation of women and to promote diversity on speaking panels. At NIDDK, we support programs that encourage inclusion, enabling people from underrepresented groups to explore research careers and helping develop and mentor scientists from diverse backgrounds at all stages of their careers.

In good health,

Griffin P. Rodgers, M.D., M.A.C.P.
Director, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Follow NIDDK on Twitter @NIDDK

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