Diabetes affects an estimated 38.4 million people in the United States and is the eighth leading cause of death.  Diabetes is characterized by the body’s inability to produce and/or respond appropriately to insulin.  These defects result in persistent elevation of blood glucose levels and other metabolic abnormalities, which in turn lead to the development of disease complications, such as heart disease and stroke, blindness, kidney failure, and lower limb amputation. In addition to increasing the risk for these complications, diabetes also doubles the risk for many forms of cancer, some forms of dementia, hearing loss, erectile dysfunction, urinary incontinence, and many other common diseases.

  • Type 1 diabetes affects approximately 6 percent of adults and the majority of children and youth with diagnosed diabetes.
  • Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of the disease, accounting for about 90 to 94 percent of diagnosed diabetes cases in U.S. adults. Type 2 diabetes is also increasingly being diagnosed in children and adolescents, and disproportionately affects individuals from racial and ethnic minority populations.
  • Prediabetes affects an estimated 97.6 million adults in the United States. Individuals with prediabetes are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Gestational diabetes affects a significant proportion of pregnant persons. In addition to placing the pregnant person and their child at risk for complications during childbirth, gestational diabetes increases their future risk for type 2 diabetes.

The NIDDK supports basic, clinical, and translational research to combat diabetes and its associated complications. For example, NIDDK-supported researchers are:

  • studying genetic and environmental factors that contribute to the development and progression of diabetes;
  • identifying ways to improve diabetes health equity and reduce diabetes health disparities;
  • studying ways to preserve insulin-producing cells of the pancreas;
  • identifying new methods to improve blood glucose monitoring and insulin delivery in type 1 diabetes;
  • examining behavioral approaches to prevent type 2 diabetes and to enhance diabetes self-management;
  • conducting clinical trials testing new prevention and treatment strategies for diabetes and its complications; and
  • uncovering the fundamental cellular and molecular pathways underlying development of diabetes and its complications to develop new and more personalized approaches to prevention and management.

The NIDDK also administers the Special Statutory Funding Program for Type 1 Diabetes Research, which is a special appropriation dedicated to supporting research on type 1 diabetes and its complications. More information on the Program and the research it supports is available on the Type 1 Diabetes Research Special Statutory Funding Program website.

In addition, NIDDK has congressional authorization for the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse, which provides services via the NIDDK Health Information Center. NIDDK responds to questions and provides health information about diabetes to people with diabetes and to their families, health professionals, and the public.

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What We Do

To achieve its mission, NIDDK supports, conducts, coordinates, and plans research. NIDDK also provides data and samples from NIDDK-funded studies and explains research findings to health professionals and the public.

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NIDDK makes publicly supported resources, data sets, and studies available to researchers.

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Provide Health Information

NIDDK provides patient education information, practice tools for diagnosis and treatment, and statistics.

Last Reviewed May 2024