Diabetes Research a Focus in North Carolina


Diabetes Research a Focus in North Carolina

EAST GREENSBORO, N.C. – April 1, 2019 – The North Carolina Diabetes Research Collaborative (NCDRC) held its second annual Diabetes Research Symposium on March 15, hosted by North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University at the Union Square Campus in Greensboro.

Along with partners Duke University, UNC-Chapel Hill and Wake Forest University, N.C. A&T welcomed over 100 industry and academic professionals from across the state who are committed to advancing diabetes research.
This year’s program featured a keynote address from Dr. Louis Philipson, president of Medicine and Science for the American Diabetes Association. Philipson participated in the discovery of insulin gene mutations that result in neonatal diabetes, now known to be the second most common cause of permanent neonatal diabetes, as well as a rare cause of later-onset diabetes.

Diabetes Symposium“It was obvious to all in attendance that the diabetes researchers of North Carolina are aligned with laser focus on curing this disease,” said Meriel Parker, A&T’s director of Life Sciences Research. “So much has been learned in the past year, and we are all wiser and better equipped because the collaboration has 

brought experts from institutions which individually bring their own, respective expertise to this collective venue; maximizing efforts, knowledge and expenditure for greater impact.”
N.C. A&T brings a unique perspective to the research around diabetes. By harnessing the resources and expertise of this historically black university, the collaborative has a window into a group of diseases that disproportionately affect African Americans.

African Americans are 1.7 times more likely to have diabetes than whites. African Americans are also significantly more likely to suffer from complications related to diabetes such as blindness, kidney disease and amputations.

Elimelda Ongeri, Ph.D., associate professor at N.C. A&T is focusing her research on one of these diabetic complications, kidney disease. She was awarded a $1.42 million grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of General Medicine to investigate acute kidney disease initiated by reduced blood flow to the kidneys and subsequent oxygen deficiency.

Also at the symposium, the collaborative Pilot Grants Program was renewed for a second year. The program is designed to encourage and facilitate novel, basic clinical and translational diabetes research. Eligible projects must have a clear diabetes focus and involve co-principal investigators from at least two of the four collaborating institutions.

Winners of a $50,000 pilot grant will have demonstrated a clear path to attracting subsequent grant support, new company formation, licensing, not-for-profit partnering or other channels of success. Letters of Intent are due by April 1, with full applications due May 13, 2019. A&T faculty interested in applying for a pilot grant can contact Parker at mparker2@ncat.edu  or Ongeri at eongeri@ncat.edu.