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University of South Florida receives new multimillion award to assess juvenile diabetes treatments

Tampa, FL (July 31, 2008) -- The National Institutes of Health has awarded $128 million to the University of South Florida research team led by Jeffrey Krischer, PhD, to coordinate worldwide studies on the prevention and treatment of juvenile diabetes. This latest funding, a seven-year award, supports Dr. Krischer's coordination of the NIH network of clinical research centers known as TrialNet.

The award adds to the $169 million received last year by Dr. Krischer, a professor of pediatrics, to coordinate studies examining the causes of juvenile diabetes. That previously funded 10-year NIH study, known as TEDDY (The Environmental Determinants of Diabetes in the Young), is seeking to explain why the incidence of diabetes in the very young has doubled since the 1980s. The $169-million grant was the largest in USF's history.

"Dr. Krischer's new TrialNet grant will catapult USF to the top 50 for NIH funding to medical schools," said Stephen Klasko, MD, MBA, senior vice president for USF Health and dean of the College of Medicine. "Almost every major effort worldwide to eliminate type 1 diabetes for the next generation comes through here."

"Jeff sees connections other people don't see. He uses tools in new ways to solve very complex problems," said Karen Holbrook, PhD, vice president for research and innovation at USF. "It's an extraordinary program that is doing as much as any program today for people around the globe. It is innovative, and it is important."

Type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes, is one of the most common and serious long-term diseases in children and adolescents. It is a disease in which the body's immune system attacks the cells that make insulin a hormone that keeps blood sugar levels stable. Its treatment requires a life-long commitment to daily insulin injections and significant lifestyle changes.

TrialNet will screen more than 150,000 children and adults, identifying those with early signs of diabetes to investigate new therapies that may arrest disease progression. Other studies include treatments of newly diagnosed patients to prevent continued loss of insulin production capability. These treatments, if proven successful, may be tested to determine if they can yield new prevention strategies. In addition to heading the data coordinating and technology center for TrialNet, Dr. Krischer chairs one of the major prevention studies within the consortium a clinical trial investigating whether oral insulin can prevent or delay diabetes in a specific group of people at risk for type 1 diabetes.

TEDDY is screening more than 300,000 newborns and following 8,000 for up to 15 years to investigate the role that diet, infections, and other environmental factors may play in the disease process. Dr. Krischer chairs the study itself as well as directing TEDDY's data coordinating center.

Both TrialNet and TEDDY are being carried out on an international stage through clinical sites in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand

The two projects complement each other, with virtually every major university and medical center conducting type 1 diabetes research now linked to Dr. Krischer's Pediatric Epidemiology Center at USF. The center is pooling the clinical consortiums' efforts to understand the triggers of diabetes and to develop strategies to prevent or improve treatment. Data describing the everyday lives of study participants, results from research laboratories across the globe, and the clinical course of the disease in affected individuals flow into USF on a continual basis.

All that data is analyzed at USF and shared with scientists, clinicians and investigators worldwide with the goal of putting an end to type 1 diabetes, Dr. Krischer said. "This team effort would not be possible without the outstanding group of 50-plus researchers at USF working on these studies. They are recognized world experts in developing new technologies and informatics applied to medicine," he said. "The research in diabetes complements our other projects in rare diseases, many of which are also autoimmune diseases and share a common etiological pathway. The hope is that our efforts can lead to improvements for all those affected."


Contact: Anne DeLotto Baier
University of South Florida Health

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