U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
NIDDK Director's Update

Director's Note

Spring 2015


Photo of two researchers shaking handsBig health discoveries often start small – ideas built upon ideas. But ideas need resources to drive them forward and transform them into the kind of breakthroughs that can improve treatments, cure diseases and make people’s lives better.

That’s the goal of the NIDDK’s Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs, both of which provide practical means for small companies with big ideas to accelerate progress by honing and commercializing their biomedical research.

As you can read about in this issue, results of these programs’ grants have shown great promise across the NIDDK mission area – from helping diagnose a chronic liver disease to improving surgical outcomes to radically rethinking insulin. These grants are on track to show great rewards in terms of their public health impact.

In addition to the humanitarian return, the grants are one way NIDDK contributes to the economic growth of communities across the United States, providing an immediate and tangible return on federal investment.

While many of these discoveries are powering forward across the country, small ideas are catalyzing great breakthroughs on our NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland, as well. In this edition, you’ll see that Dr. Wei Yang of NIDDK’s Intramural Research Program embodies this drive toward discovery.

Dr. Yang is a world-renowned experimentalist who combines talents in crystallography and biochemistry to gain a deep mechanistic understanding of DNA repair and recombination. Accurate DNA replication, repair and recombination are essential for all living organisms.  Disruption of these processes can result in disease. Dr. Yang's work has provided a much richer understanding of these processes at the molecular level, clarifying how genetic defects in these systems lead to human disease while opening up a novel array of therapeutic targets.

What you’ll see in this issue are only a few examples of the kind of cutting-edge research that can lead to better health. We can’t wait to see where these ideas lead, and where the next great biomedical research ideas will begin.

In good health, 

Dr. Griffin Rodgers Signature

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