Tag Archives: diabetes

November Marks American Diabetes Month

diabetesDid you know that nearly 26 million children and adults in the U.S. have diabetes, and another 79 million Americans have pre-diabetes and are at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), a Research!America member?

During the month of November, the ADA, along with other organizations, will raise awareness and understanding about this increasingly prevalent disease and ways to prevent it. This year’s theme is “A Day in the Life of Diabetes,” because diabetes doesn’t stop; it’s 24/7, 365 days a year. Visit ADA’s website, Twitter, and Facebook page to learn more about ways you can participate.

Researchers are making progress in identifying the genetics and “triggers” that predispose some individuals to develop Type 1 diabetes, but more research is needed to combat the disease. Tell Congress that we need more #curesnotcuts to help improve diabetes prevention and treatment. Speak up now!

Share Your Story: How You Can Fight for Tomorrow’s Medical Breakthroughs

By Endocrine Society President Teresa K. Woodruff, PhD

Teresa WoodruffThe sad stories flow in each day. A post-doctoral fellow gives up scientific research after 10 years of training. A cancer researcher faces a fruitless job search and expiring visa. The endocrinologist agonizes over letting a long-time lab employee go.

Hundreds of these tales are unfolding across the country as the National Institutes of Health struggles to stretch its dwindling budget. Because of sequestration, an NIH budget that barely kept pace with inflation through the 1990s and early 2000s was slashed by another $1.6 billion this fiscal year. If Congress cannot agree on a more balanced approach to budget cuts, another $6.7 billion in needed biomedical research funding will disappear in Fiscal Year 2014. The NIH funding cuts are nothing short of a disaster for biomedical science in the United States, as the Society journal Endocrinology’s Editor-in-Chief Andrea C. Gore observed in a recent editorial.

It is disheartening to think of the treatments that won’t be developed, the discoveries that won’t be made and the patients who will suffer as a result of Congress’ short-sighted funding decisions. As president of The Endocrine Society, I saw firsthand at the Society’s annual meeting ENDO 2013 just how many breakthroughs our researchers are making to ultimately improve the lives of people who have conditions like diabetes, thyroid disorders and cancer. Without biomedical research funding, promising scientific avenues won’t be explored and fewer new treatments will be available to patients in the years to come.

In my own lab at Northwestern University, we instituted a hiring freeze after our grant award was halved. Now we won’t be able to investigate some key questions, such as how endocrine-disrupting chemicals in our environment impact reproductive health.

But there are actions we as researchers and scientists can take to avert the worst effects of this crisis. Congress and the public need to know how much pain the sequester is causing by delaying breakthroughs in treating infertility, heart disease and metabolic disorders. Congress should reverse course. Take a moment to share your story with your Members of Congress, your hometown newspaper, or a health organization like The Endocrine Society, Research!America or United for Medical Research. By raising our voices as one, we can rewrite the story’s ending and protect our nation’s biomedical research legacy.

John Eng Named Second Golden Goose Award Recipient for 2013

John Eng, MD, was recently named as the latest winner of the Golden Goose Awards. Eng is the second winner announced in 2013, and others will be named in the coming weeks. The Golden Goose Award was created last year to celebrate researchers whose seemingly odd or obscure federally funded research turned out to have a significant, positive impact on society.

Eng, a one-time researcher with the Veterans Administration in New York City, discovered that the venom contained in the bite of a Gila monster — a lizard native to the southwest U.S. and northwest Mexico — had components that could aid diabetics. His research was funded by the VA and built on previous studies funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Soon after, Eng purchased a booth at the annual meeting of the American Diabetes Association, a Research!America member, touting his discovery. He caught the attention of a then-small biotech, Amylin Pharmaceuticals. Amylin developed the discovery into a drug that won approval from the Food and Drug Administration in 2005. Since then, the drug — Byetta — has proven effective at helping diabetics moderate their blood sugar. Continue reading →

Budget sequestration could soon cost us in lives

An excerpt of an op-ed by Robert I. Field, PhD, JD, MPH, professor of the Earle Mack School of Law & Drexel School of Public Health published in Philly.com.

Robert I. Field

Robert I. Field, PhD, JD, MPH

What do we get when Congress cuts federal spending across-the-board? Does it bring lower taxes, smaller deficits, and less bureaucracy?

How about worse health care, less medical innovation, and lost lives?

The budget sequester that Congress enacted in 2011 began to take effect this year with spending cuts for most federal programs. So far, the majority of Americans have seen little change. Some may even applaud the idea of forcing the federal government to make due with less.

But the sequester is about to exert an especially sinister effect that lies just outside of public view. It could cripple medical research.

The National Institutes of Health is the largest single source of biomedical research funding in the world. It supports work at most universities in the United States and at many around the world.

That’s not just important to the physicians and researchers who work at those institutions. It’s vitally important to everyone. NIH funding stands behind the development of almost every major drug that has emerged over the past 50 years. You can see the impact of this agency every time you open your medicine cabinet. It has also brought us countless medical devices and procedures. And led to 83 Nobel prizes. Continue reading →

America’s Health Rankings Senior Report Released

UntitledThe United Health Foundation recently released their first-ever comprehensive report on the health of America’s senior population.  According to a statement from the authors Reed Tuckson, MD and Rhonda Randall, DO, “The report provides a comprehensive analysis of senior population health rankings on both national and state levels, and it comes at a critical time.  Americans are living longer but sicker lives, and America’s senior population is poised to grow 53 percent between 2015 and 2030.”  This fascinating report ranks each state by the incidence of several factors, including obesity, physical inactivity, low-care nursing, and food insecurity.

The United Health Foundation, a Research!America member, is dedicated to creating a healthier America and, through this report , the authors have released some disturbing data.  For example, over a quarter of seniors are obese which places them at far greater risk of debilitating diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and certain cancers.  Obesity, which was recently declared a disease by the American Medical Association, is also commonly linked to poorer health status and premature death.  It is imperative that we work to reverse these trends as our population continues to age and place a greater burden on the healthcare system.  Click through the report and see how your state ranks in the health of its seniors. Continue reading →

New National Public Opinion Poll Shows Majority of Americans Would Participate in Clinical Trials if Recommended by Their Doctor

Only Small Percentage say Health Care Professionals Have Ever Talked to Them about Medical Research

ALEXANDRIA, Va.-June 12, 2013 – More than two-thirds (72%) of Americans say it’s likely they would participate in a clinical trial if recommended by their doctor, but only 22% say a doctor or other health care professional has ever talked to them about medical research, according to a new national public opinion poll commissioned by Research!America. A wide majority (80%) say they have heard of a clinical trial – more than half (53%) through the Internet and only 24% from a doctor or other health care provider.

Only 16% of those polled say they or someone in their family have ever participated in clinical trials. Respondents believe individuals don’t participate because of a lack of awareness (53%), a lack of trust (53%), concerns that it’s too risky (51%), adverse health outcomes (44%), little or no monetary compensation (35%), privacy concerns (27%), and worries that it takes too much time (27%).

The findings point to the important role of health care providers in talking to their patients about clinical trials. “It is critical for providers and health systems in the U.S. to recognize the importance of generating knowledge about which treatments are best through participation in clinical trials,” said Robert Califf, MD, vice chancellor of clinical and translational research at Duke University Medical Center and board chair of the Clinical Research Forum, a co-sponsor of the poll. “Advances in common diseases like Alzheimer’s and diabetes, as well as rare diseases, depend on physicians and other members of the health care team offering their patients a chance to participate in clinical trials.” Continue reading →

Rally for Medical Research: Building a grassroots movement to make medical research a higher national priority


Thousands of scientists, patients and research advocates gathered on the grounds of the Carnegie Library in Washington, DC, on April 8 to unite behind a call for increased funding for medical research. The Rally for Medical Research was organized by the American Association for Cancer Research in conjunction with their annual meeting and was supported by more than 200 partnering organizations — including Research!America. The program featured statements from patients and their families, scientists, policy makers, and research advocates. Cokie Roberts of ABC News and NPR, cancer survivor and research advocate, was the master of ceremonies. Continue reading →

Lancet Publishes Series on Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis

On March 24, World Tuberculosis Day, the Lancet published a series of papers on the need to combat drug-resistant tuberculosis. Cases of drug-resistant TB are on the rise, posing a growing threat to the health of populations in all parts of the world.

The series consists of six papers written by international experts in the tuberculosis field, including Professor Alimuddin Zumla, Director of the Centre for Infectious Diseases at the University College London Medical School and Dr. Marco Schito at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Some papers focus on TB diagnostics, highlighting advances such as the Xpert MTB/RIF test as well as the dire need for new affordable and effective diagnostics that can detect drug-resistant strains of the disease. One paper focuses on the more technical aspects of the disease and identifies the need for additional funding to research biomarkers for drug-resistant TB. Yet another paper discusses the importance of integrated health service and control efforts, as countries are facing a high burden of TB as well as non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and cancer. Finally, the last two papers discuss the importance of community engagement in research and the need for visionary political leadership to advance global efforts to control TB.

Taken together, this series not only warns of the danger of the TB, but of the danger of inaction. If we are to make progress in the global fight against TB, we must take some of the recommendations for research and control efforts laid out in these papers. It will take concerted action from political leaders, health policy makers, funders and researchers to stem the growing threat of drug resistant TB.

-Morgan McCloskey, global health intern

Autoimmune Awareness

Throughout March, patient and research advocacy groups are observing Autoimmune Awareness Month. There are an estimated 23.5 million Americans suffering from one of nearly 100 autoimmune diseases. Some autoimmune diseases are rare but more common autoimmune disorders include Type 1 diabetes, Crohn’s disease and lupus.

Autoimmune disease results from the body’s natural defense system attacking healthy cells. The target of this attack can be a specific organ, such as insulin-producing cells in the pancreas in Type 1 diabetes, or it can be more widespread throughout the body, as is the case for patients living with lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. Continue reading →

Research!America President and CEO Mary Woolley Applauds Supreme Court’s Dismissal of Embryonic Stem Cell Case

January 9, 2013

The U.S. Supreme Court’s dismissal of Sherley v. Sebelius, a case intended to block federal funding for scientists conducting embryonic stem cell research, is a victory for patients and the research community. This key decision will allow the continuation of federal funding from the National Institutes of Health, providing essential support for scientists to conduct lifesaving research. Embryonic stem cells, which can repair or replace damaged tissue and organs, have advanced research aimed at finding cures and therapies to treat a wide variety of diseases and disorders including vision impairment, spinal cord injuries, and multiple sclerosis.  Clinical trials have also shown promising therapeutic applications to help fight cancer, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes and other disabling illnesses. We applaud the ruling and will continue to support such innovative research that could save millions of lives.

 # # #

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Just as competitive as the Olympics, but not on the national radar screen

Dear Research Advocate,

This week’s Nobel Prize announcements are a fine reminder of how government-supported research plays a critical role in expanding our knowledge, leading not only to worldwide recognition but taking us closer to understanding and curing disease. The winners of the prize for chemistry, Dr. Robert Lefkowitz, Howard Hughes Medical Research investigator and professor at Duke University Medical Center, and Dr. Brian Kobilka of Stanford University School of Medicine both received grants from the National Institutes of Health, as did one of the physiology and medicine awardees, Dr. Shinya Yamanaka. They are among the many Nobel laureates whose important work throughout the years has been supported by the American taxpayer.

Wouldn’t it be great if candidates for election this November were talking about the Nobel Prizes? Among the responses to our voter education initiative we received this week was the telling remark from one incumbent that not only does his campaign not have a science advisor, he believes that no candidate (for the House) does! Although we know for a fact that he isn’t entirely correct, his perception is close enough to reality to give an insight into the priority level our issue has in this election. We’ll know that candidates care about worldwide recognition in science — which is at least as competitive as the Olympics — when they talk up American “wins” of the Nobel science prizes. Don’t let the candidates’ apparent disinterest in the Nobel stop you from drawing attention to the awardees’ accomplishments. Write a letter to the editor today!

Far from being a priority, research, and thus medical progress, is threatened by the specter of sequester. Research advocates must work together to convey the same message to policy makers: prioritize health research. Life Technologies, a Research!America member, has launched a new grassroots tool that makes it quick and easy to reach out to your representatives to urge them to halt the sequester before it’s too late.

We’re continuing to hear more about the local impact of sequestration, and that is a good thing if we expect to stop it in its tracks. Typical of explanations we’re seeing is that of Dr. Bill Chin, executive dean for research at Harvard Medical School, who describes sequestration as a “knife hanging over our heads … About a quarter of new grants won’t be funded and funding will be reduced for current projects working on cures for cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes and heart disease, all of which have had remarkable advances recently.” The New York Times, citing a report from AAAS, explains that federal R&D funding could be cut by more than $12 billion in 2013 alone. The article calls out the vital role of the government in incubating the new ideas that are commercialized by the private sector, leading to new jobs and even new industries. Talk about return on investment! (And we should talk about it!) Clearly, maintaining and boosting our investments in research is one of the key ingredients for repowering and revitalizing our economy.

Vice President Joe Biden will be facing off with Rep. Paul Ryan in the vice presidential debate tonight. We can expect health and health care to be part of the discussion, which provides an opportunity to connect the dots to research. As you monitor the discussion, be sure to weigh in on social media to remind the candidates that research for health should be a priority as we seek to drive innovation and medical progress.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

World Sight Day

On October 11th, World Sight Day, the World Health Organization will raise awareness about visual impairment around the world, as well as their Vision 2020 initiative aimed at eliminating avoidable blindness by 2020. WHO estimates that 285 million people worldwide are visually impaired and about 39 million of those individuals are permanently blind. However, up to 80% of these cases are due to preventable causes like cataracts, glaucoma, diabetes, trachoma and onchocerciasis. The last two causes on that list may not sound familiar – trachoma and onchocerciasis are two types of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), diseases that have historically received little attention despite affecting 1.4 billion people throughout the world and right here in the U.S. On World Sight Day, we must not only raise awareness about these diseases, but of the need for additional funding and research to eliminate NTDs once and for all.

As the world’s leading cause of infectious blindness, trachoma results in an estimated $2.9 billion in lost productivity each year. Trachoma is a parasitic infection that mainly affects poor, rural communities in Africa and Asia. WHO has established key strategies for eliminating the disease, including surgery and antibiotic treatments for affected individuals and educational campaigns about the importance of facial cleanliness. International partnerships between the U.S. Agency for International Development, the International Trachoma Initiative and pharmaceutical companies have implemented these programs and helped to reduce trachoma cases from 149 million in 1997 to 60 million in 2008. Onchocerciasis, or river blindness, is the second leading cause of infectious blindness and can result in over $30 million in economic losses each year. Onchocerciasis is a parasitic infection transmitted through black sand flies and primarily affects river communities in sub-Saharan Africa. Through collaboration with global partners like WHO and USAID, the African Program for Onchocerciasis Control has focused on insecticide spraying and administering drugs in high risk communities since 1995. Overall, this strategy has reduced cases of river blindness by 73%, down to an estimated 37 million cases today.

This year on World Sight Day, we must celebrate the progress that has been made, while recognizing that there is clearly more work to be done. Current programs can be difficult to implement in rural areas and vaccines do not exist for either of these diseases. Additional investment in NTD research to develop new prevention and treatment methods will be an important component for Vision 2020’s efforts to eliminate preventable blindness around the world.

Morgan McCloskey, global health intern

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Reading between the Lines and then Taking Action

Dear Research Advocate,

As you know, the Republican Party Platform was unveiled Tuesday during the convention in Tampa. There are direct references to medical and health research and other statements that — if not explicit — definitely imply the need for such research. We can draw from both to enhance our advocacy efforts.

The following exemplifies the direct and indirect nature of the platform’s embrace of medical and health research:

“We support federal investment in health care delivery systems and solutions creating innovative means to provide greater, more cost-effective access to high quality health care. We also support federal investment in basic and applied biomedical research, especially the neuroscience research that may hold great potential for dealing with diseases and disorders such as autism, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. If we are to make significant headway against breast and prostate cancer, diabetes and other killers, research must consider the special needs of formerly neglected groups.”

The platform explicitly supports federal funding for basic and applied medical research, and, if I am interpreting the text correctly, acknowledges the need to address health disparities as part of the nation’s research agenda. This statement also implies the need for health services research (HSR) to devise “solutions” that improve health care access, cost-effectiveness and quality. Unfortunately the House Labor-H appropriations bill precludes NIH funding for health economics research — a key subset of HSR — and virtually zeroes out the budget of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the main funder of HSR. The platform provides advocates fresh talking points as final appropriations decisions are made later this year.

The Republican platform also states: “Even expensive prevention is preferable to more costly treatment later on.” While the rest of the statement focuses on personal responsibility, research plays an undeniable role in effective prevention. Vaccines, the nicotine patch, successful drug and alcohol addiction treatment programs … all are grounded in research. Advocates can segue directly from the platform to the importance of prevention research at CDC and other agencies … and we should. Three other sections of the platform are noteworthy. It goes hard on the FDA, asserting that it needs significant reform. The platform does not mention funding, but there is a logical connection here. Patient groups, scientists, industry and FDA leaders themselves are all committed to strengthening the agency and are working hard to accomplish just that. Support for FDA reform cannot logically be decoupled from support for FDA funding, a point that must not get lost in the reform debate.

Second, the platform advocates making the R&D tax credit permanent. Bravo!  We should increase and make other improvements to the credit as well.

Finally, the platform opposes embryonic stem cell research. Not a surprise, but a disappointment.  Proponents must keep fighting this battle, drawing strength from the recent court victory in which President Obama’s executive order was once again upheld.

There is much to applaud in the Republican platform when it comes to federal support for both medical and health research. Let’s take that and run with it. In an article that appeared this week in Forbes, John Zogby discusses the results of our recent national poll. He focuses on the exceptional level of agreement between different demographic and ideological subsets of the American population on issues related to health and medical research. We see that reality reflected in many of the planks in the Republican platform. Indeed most of the results from our poll will not surprise you (except, perhaps, the fact that a majority of Americans of all stripes would pay a dollar more per week in taxes if they knew it was going toward medical research), but it’s a fact that most policy makers have not embraced medical progress as a goal worthy of mentioning in campaign speeches or on their campaign websites. Platforms aside, this gives Americans no basis by which to evaluate whether individual candidates will champion or chop research funding and no assurance that they will take medical innovation into account when evaluating policy decisions that could stimulate or stifle it. Your Candidates-Your Health is an important way that candidates can make their opinions known about medical and health research. Advocates can do their part by attending town halls, visiting campaign offices, writing op-eds and letters to the editor, and using these polling results to convince candidates that promoting medical progress should be one of their core missions.

We have our work cut out for us, but we will succeed if we do more than parse the rhetoric — we have to take action!

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley