November 30, 2014 | by Nicole White
As diabetes experts worldwide know, City of Hope has a longstanding commitment to combating diabetes, a leading national and global health threat. Now that commitment has led to a $60 million investment to expand basic and translational research efforts through the new Diabetes & Metabolism Research Institute at City of Hope.
The diabetes institute will expand the existing diabetes program, already credited with important discoveries in the understanding and treatment of diabetes. With an estimated one in three people in the U.S. projected to be diagnosed with diabetes by 2050, the need for diabetes research has never been more crucial.
“Millions of diabetes patients worldwide depend on synthetic insulin, a medical breakthrough with its roots at City of Hope,” said Steven T. Rosen, M.D., Irell & Manella Cancer Center Director’s Distinguished Chair, provost and chief scientific officer. “The institute will accelerate our efforts to discover new treatments and potential cures for this serious health threat. We will push forward in epigenetics, immunology, developmental biology, translational medicine, obesity, nutrition and metabolism – all fields that will be integral in developing cures for diabetes.”
Arthur Riggs, Ph.D., will serve as director of the institute, with Fouad Kandeel, M.D., Ph.D., serving as associate director. The institute will initially include four basic science and translational research departments: Diabetes Complications, Obesity and Metabolism; Diabetes Immunology; Developmental Biology; and Translational Research and Cellular Therapeutics; as well as one clinical department, Clinical Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism.
A pioneer in translational research for diabetes, City of Hope serves as the West Coast’s leading center for islet cell therapy, and is a leader in diabetes epigenetics research. Its diabetes program is built on a rich history that started with its founder, Rachmiel Levine, M.D., the first scientist to describe the role of insulin in regulating glucose entry into the cell. That work led to an understanding of what’s now known as “insulin resistance,” the hallmark of type 2 diabetes.
“Levine was a giant and a pioneer in the field of diabetes research,” Riggs said. “I am proud to be leading the institute that’s grown from the program he started, and we will carry on his legacy of scientific discovery that makes a difference in the lives of patients.
City of Hope researchers, including Riggs, contributed to the development of synthetic insulin, which is now used by millions of diabetic patients worldwide, and Rama Natarajan, Ph.D., National Business Products Industry Professor in Diabetes Research, is a pioneer in unraveling the molecular epigenetic bases of diabetes complications and metabolic memory. Further, City of Hope is a national leader in clinical trials involving islet cell transplantation, a potential cure for patients with type 1 diabetes.
“As one of only a few centers able to perform potentially lifesaving islet cell transplants, City of Hope is already at the forefront of discovering advanced treatment options for the diabetic patients who need it most,” Kandeel said.
Expansion of diabetes research at City of Hope supports the institution’s core mission to transform the future of health, turning scientific knowledge into a practical benefit that can treat patients.
“City of Hope is committed to fighting diabetes through innovative, scientific research,” said Robert W. Stone, president and CEO of City of Hope. “Our legacy of medical discovery, combined with our quest for new breakthrough treatments, gives us the ability to change the future for the millions of people who battle this disease every day.”
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