The World is in the midst of an unprecedented obesity epidemic, a public health burden that increases the risk for developing insulin resistance and several chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. The multifactorial causes of obesity include several genetic, dietary and lifestyle variables that together result in an imbalance between energy intake and energy expenditure. Dietary approaches to limit fat intake are commonly prescribed to achieve the hypocaloric conditions necessary for weight loss. But dietary fat restriction is often accompanied by increased carbohydrate intake, which can dramatically increase the body's ability to make more fat, depending upon carbohydrate composition. Since both dietary and the fast the body makes contribute to the whole-body fat pool, obesity can therefore result from excessive fat or carbohydrate consumption. While the consumption of both high fat and carbohydrate foods is always very high in the developed countries, high carbohydrate diet consumption is on the rise in developing countries. Therapies for reducing obesity have been relatively unsuccessful. The discovery of new strategies aimed at reducing the prevalence of obesity is critical for the management of diseases of the metabolic syndrome including diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
What area of diabetes research does your project cover? What role will this particular project play in preventing, treating and/or curing diabetes?
It covers type II diabetes and its associated metabolic diseases. Our research will examine the link between diet, particularly the consumption of high fat and high carbohydrate diets, and the development of type 2 diabetes. Information gained from this project will play a role in preventing, treating, and curing diabetes by laying the groundwork for the creation of new drugs. Additionally, the research would advise diabetic patients on how to select proper diets to manage or prevent diabetes.
If a person with diabetes were to ask you how your project will help them in the future, how would you respond?
In the future, drugs or dietary recommendations developed from our work may help treat or cure diabetes.
Why is it important for you, personally, to become involved in diabetes research? What role will this award play in your research efforts?
Personally, it is important for me to be involved in diabetes research because I have many family members that are diabetic. In fact I grew up watching my relatives and friends inject insulin daily and lose mobility from diabetic complications. This award will allow me to conduct new studies that will help us better understand prediabetes and the progression to fully blown diabetic state.
In what direction do you see the future of diabetes research going?
We see the future of diabetes research focusing on new strategies for the prevention and treatment of the disease. This can be achieved by understanding in greater detail how factors, such as diet and new medications, interact with our genetic makeup to influence the development of the disease from individual to individual.