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Research Diabetes

Top Designation for CU Anschutz Medical Campus Expands Research Reach

NIH-sponsored Diabetes Research Center $6.7 million award opens resources, grants to scientists across state

Author Debra Melani | Publish Date September 28, 2020
  • What you need to know: The School of Medicine received a top national diabetes center designation, opening its doors wider to researchers across the University of Colorado four-campus system and the state.

Fulfilling their mission to establish a unified Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes research community at the School of Medicine (SOM) just got a little bit easier for scientists on the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.

With a new five-year, $6.7 million grant from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) and designation as a Diabetes Research Center (DRC), the CU Anschutz Medical Campus will broaden its reach in strengthening diabetes research across the campus, the state and the CU system.

Already a recognized diabetes research hub, the university beat out other major institutions for the highly competitive Center Core Grants (P30) DRC award. The designation opens its doors wider to the most advanced diabetes technologies and resources in the Rocky Mountain region.

In addition to joining the minds of existing researchers, directors hope the program helps attract new investigators to the field through grants and other opportunities.

Joining ‘pockets of excellence’

“With only 16 NIH DRCs in the United States, this award acknowledges that we are one of the leading diabetes research communities in the country,” said Lori Sussel, PhD, director of the Research Division of the Barbara Davis Center For Diabetes (BDC). Sussel will direct the DRC with co-director Jane Reusch, MD, a professor of endocrinology.

This award acknowledges that

we are one of the leading diabetes

research communities in the country.”

– Lori Sussel, PhD

“One of the really exciting things about a DRC is that it brings together the pockets of excellence in diabetes research that we have across our entire research community,” Reusch said. Those pockets exist everywhere from the BDC and adult and pediatric endocrinology to bioengineering and the Colorado School of Public Health, she said.

Except for creating the 1,100-page grant proposal, promoting the diabetes research community with its strengths in Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes and its unique multi-hospital academic medical campus wasn’t that difficult, Sussel said.

‘Building on strengths we already have’

“We have very strong basic research and very strong clinical endeavors for both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes and the complications related to diabetes. And that’s both in the numbers of researchers and the quality of research,” Sussel said. “We’re building on the strengths we already have.”

The CU Anschutz diabetes research base includes 88 basic, translational and clinical scientific investigators across 17 departments and divisions. Those researchers bring direct grant support totaling over $65 million in individual grants and in excess of $14 million in center and training grants for diabetes and diabetes-related research, Sussel said.

The proposal also demonstrated that the CU Anschutz Medical Campus is already an interactive community, she said. “We collaborate, we publish together, we already have thriving enrichment programs,” Sussel said, noting that includes a weekly diabetes seminar series and several annual symposiums showcasing basic and translational research.

For more information on grants, membership and a

mailing list about enrichment programs, researchers

can visit the Diabetes Research Center website or

contact the DRC Program Manager Michelle Guney

at michelle.guney@cuanschutz.edu.

Call for four new grants in November

DRC program members can come from anywhere in Colorado, and Sussel hopes to eventually expand to some neighboring states. Researchers, including new and non-diabetes investigators, can apply for Pilot and Feasibility (P&F) grants, with a call for four new $50,000 grants coming in November, Sussel said.

Members can also attend the expanded seminar series, now offered remotely due to COVID-19, making them more accessible. “So, they can see science presentations from diabetes investigators now from all over the world.”

The School of Medicine pledged an additional $100,000 of support annually for P&F grants, which Sussel said was essential to the grant proposal’s success. “One strength of our application was the demonstration of tangible institutional support,” she said, adding that it can help attract new investigators into the field.

Reusch said she hopes the DRC leads to increased collaboration among disciplines and exciting clinical trials, which the designation is sure to increase, she said. “And that will offer patients more opportunities for the best cutting-edge pharmacotherapy or technologies to enhance their lives.”

Photo at top: Lori Sussel, PhD, left, and Jane Reusch, MD, will co-direct the CU SOM Diabetes Research Center.