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For Immediate Release

Children’s Hospital Receives NIH Funding for Pediatric Endocrinologists to Train in Childhood Diabetes Research

Children’s is one of only seven hospitals in U.S. recognized for diabetes research programs

Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh has been selected as one of only seven hospitals to receive NIH funding to help train researchers in childhood diabetes – both type 1 and type 2.

Under the leadership of Silva Arslanian, MD, pediatric endocrinologist at Children’s, the funding will be used to hire more pediatric endocrinologists conducting diabetes research. Dr. Arslanian is in the forefront of this research on the increasing epidemic of type 2 diabetes in children.

“Diabetes research has progressed dramatically in the last decade. Not only type 1 diabetes is on the rise but also type 2 diabetes, a disease commonly thought to occur only in adults,” Dr. Arslanian said. “Children’s is working to find the answers to early diagnosis, treatment and prevention of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes in children.”

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) awarded research training and career development grants to seven medical centers with strong research programs in childhood diabetes.

The NIDDK, with support from the American Diabetes Association and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International, has been working to expand the cadre of pediatric endocrinologists pursuing careers in diabetes research. Support for the new training programs, which totals $17 million over 5 years, comes from special statutory funding for type 1 diabetes research, which was recently extended by $150 million annually for the next 5 years.

The funding supports up to five positions at each hospital. Three of these positions are at a postdoctoral fellow level and two are junior faculty level for physician-scientists.

In addition to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, the awards went to Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, TX; University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver, CO; Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO; Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, MA; Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, PA; and Yale University in New Haven, CN.

“With this funding, we hope to create a pipeline of new and talented investigators whose focus is pediatric diabetes research,” said Dr. Judith Fradkin, director of NIDDK’s Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Metabolic Diseases.

Diabetes afflicts about 17 million people in the United States and is the sixth leading cause of death. About 1 million Americans have Type 1 diabetes, formerly known as juvenile onset or insulin-dependent diabetes. Type 1 diabetes develops when the body’s immune system destroys pancreatic beta cells, the only cells in the body that make the hormone insulin, which regulates blood glucose. This form of diabetes usually strikes children and young adults, who need several insulin injections a day or an insulin pump to survive. Insulin treatment, however, is not a cure, nor can it reliably prevent the long-term complications of the disease.

Type 2 diabetes, which accounts for up to 95 percent of diabetes cases in the U.S., affects about 8 percent of the U.S. population aged 18 and older, it is strongly associated with obesity (more than 80 percent of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight), inactivity, family history of diabetes, a history of gestational diabetes, and racial or ethnic background.

Once seen only in adults, type 2 diabetes has been rising steadily in children, especially minority adolescents-African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Native Americans, according to reports from clinics around the country.

Dr. Arlsanian’s research in childhood insulin resistance and racial differences has helped advance this field of investigation in pediatrics. She is performing studies that go from the clinic to the research bench and back again to understand the origins of the complications of diabetes in children and to try to proactively diminish their incidence and impact.

For more information about the funding, visit

Marc Lukasiak or Melanie Finnigan, 412-692-5016, or

Last Update
February 20, 2008
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Last Update
February 20, 2008