Ohio ranks 26th among all states for obesity, with 29.8 percent of its adult residents considered obese (as of 2015). This is an increase of 18.5 percent since 1990. Between 1990 and 2015, the percentage of adults diagnosed with diabetes shot up from 5.3 to 11 percent (one million individuals), according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

As part of The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center's new strategic plan, one goal is solely focused on creating healthy communities by addressing Ohio's most pressing health needs. To tackle diabetes and obesity in Ohio, a team of researchers from Ohio State Wexner Medical Center's Diabetes and Metabolism Research Center (DMRC), led by Willa Hsueh, MD, professor of medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, and director of the DMRC, is conducting studies that explore the underlying causes of diabetes and obesity and how the metabolic and inflammatory changes lead to complications.

In addition to Dr. Hsueh, the core DMRC team includes Martha Belury, PhD, RD, David Bradley, MD, Zobeida Cruz-Monserrate, PhD, Kathleen Dungan, MD, Joshua Joseph, MD, Douglas Lewandowski, PhD (newly recruited), Peter Mohler, PhD, Devin Peterson, PhD, Matthew Ringel, MD, Brad Rovin, MD, Kristin Stanford, PhD, Kelly Wrighton, PhD, and Kathleen Wyne, MD. This team represents individuals with deep expertise in diabetes, endocrinology and metabolism, whose research is internationally recognized.


Translating research findings to clinical practice

The DMRC is expanding both its clinical and basic research in diabetes and metabolism to address a myriad of issues related to diabetes research, education and patient care. The DMRC places special emphasis on translating its research findings to clinical practice.

"What is unique about addressing the complications that result from diabetes and obesity is that they impact all organs in the body, which can in turn cause additional diseases and conditions like Alzheimer's, lung and heart disease, arthritis and kidney disease," says Dr. Hsueh.

As the DMRC continues to take a multidisciplinary approach to develop networks of top investigators, it will expand its clinical and basic research efforts. The team is uniquely positioned both in terms of access to blood and tissue samples used to develop new treatment strategies, as well as the integration of experts in biology, immunology, surgery, nutrition, food sciences and others who contribute meaningfully to the progress in this area. As a result, the team is able to discover new mechanisms of diabetes and metabolic disease that can be translated into new prevention and treatment targets.

For type 1 diabetes, the team is conducting a first-in-human stem cell trial testing for a functional cure and following the development of diabetes in families with an afflicted member.

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