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Winter 2010 Newsletter

Message from the Director

As you may know, in the fall of 2010 the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced changes that will impact the future of the MDRTC and all DRTCs nationally. NIH has elected to fund separate Centers for Diabetes Translational Research (CDTRs) and Diabetes Endocrine Research Centers (DERCs), rather than integrated DRTCs. Although the current MDRTC grant does not expire until November 30, 2012, we elected to submit an application to create the Michigan Center for Diabetes Translational Research (MCDTR).

The CDTR program is designed to translate interventions and approaches that have clearly demonstrated efficacy into real world health care settings, communities, and populations at risk.
The program's goal is to enhance scientific progress and improve the uptake of interventions to prevent and improve the treatment of diabetes (type 1, type 2 and gestational) and related conditions. The focus of the CDTR and their Cores is to support type II translational research.

The MCDTR, if funded, will offer three scientific cores to include: 1) the Methods and Measurement Core which is focused on design and analysis issues in translational research (including health economics), 2) the Intervention and Technology Research Core which is focused on technology-based approaches to intervention delivery, health communication, patient empowerment and peer support, and 3) the Community Outreach and Engagement Core which facilitates community engagement, intervention implementation, and dissemination with a special focus on cultural competence, health disparities, and community-based participatory research.

Martin G. Myers Jr., MD, PhD and Christin Carter-Su, PhD will be submitting an application for a DERC in the first half of 2012. In preparation for the DERC application, the MDRTC held a planning retreat in December, 2010. Its purpose was to promote open discussion among members about the services the MDRTC currently offers, evaluate the continued need for those services, and identify new services MDERC should provide to maximally serve the diabetes research community at UM and regionally.

In its next grant cycle, NIH is promoting and offering additional funds to Diabetes Centers that serve as regional resources. Looking forward to becoming a regional diabetes center, both the MCDTR and the MDERC will open their cores to funded investigators at regional institutions , will partner with these other institutions to provide core services, and will open their pilot and feasibility programs to investigators at these other institutions. In preparation for creating the DERC as a regional center, discussions are currently underway with Michigan State University, University of Toledo, and Wayne State University. For more information about services available through other institutions and on specific discussions with WSU for providing proteome services, see the sections which follow entitled "MDRTC Retreat" and "Proteomic Services".

Best wishes,

MDRTC Retreat

In preparation for the competing application for a Diabetes Endocrinology Research Center (DERC) in the spring of 2012, the MDRTC held a retreat in December 2010 to obtain input from members on what is working well and what needs to be improved, and to provide input on setting the strategic direction for the DERC. Development of the DERC as a regional resource was also discussed. Interested individuals from the University of Michigan, University of Toledo, Michigan State University, and Wayne State University attended the event.

The discussion led to several suggestions to enhance services provided by the MDRTC to support basic and clinical research. These included enhanced biostatisticial resources, structural biology support, FACS sorting for stem cells, deep sequencing services and bioinformatics . These suggestions and suggestions on how to make core operations more user friendly are being discussed with the core directors. Other suggestions were made about facilitating clinical trials, such as a diabetes clinical trial website and quarterly meetings of investigators involved in diabetes-related clinical trials.

Invited external attendees indicated that the following services are available at one of the three institutions mentioned above. Consideration will be given to accessing these services depending on the interest level of MDRTC members.

Proteomics Services

To increase services and to increase our outreach to other regional universities, the MDRTC plans to contract with the Proteomics Facility Core at Wayne State University for the current year (December, 2010-Novemebr, 2011). Paul M. Stemmer, PhD, Associate Professor in the Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Eugene Applebee College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences is the Director of the Core. The Core provides state-of-the-art technology for characterization of protein identity, modification and differential expression and serves as a resource for training, education and consultation for proteomic applications.

We are currently working with Wayne State University to determine the fee structure for services and the process for submitting samples for testing. More information will be made available to MDRTC members via email once details are finalized. We hope to have the Core available to MDRTC members by March 1.

More information about this core may be found at:

MDRTC Winter Symposium

Save the Date! The 2011 MDRTC Winter Symposium will be held on Saturday, March 12, 2011 from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Auditorium at Kellogg Eye Center located at 1000 Wall Street.
The keynote speaker will be Sadaf Farooqi, PhD, Wellcome Trust Clinical Scientist, Department of Clinical Biochemistry, University of Cambridge. Dr. Farooqi qualified with Honors in Medicine from the University of Birmingham in 1993, and was awarded the Queen's Scholarship (gold medal) for best overall academic performance. Following hospital posts in Birmingham and Oxford, she went to Cambridge as part of a Wellcome Trust Training Fellowship, leading to the award of a PhD in 2001. During this time, she identified the first single gene defect to cause human obesity in two children with a mutation in the gene encoding the hormone leptin. Dr. Farooqi will present "Genetic, molecular and physiological insights into human obesity".
Malcolm J. Low, PhD, Professor of Molecular and Integrative Physiology and Internal Medicine Jiandie Lin, PhD, Research Assistant Professor, Life Sciences Institute and Assistant Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology and, Julie Lumeng, MD, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Communicable Disease and Research Investigator, Center of Human Growth and Development will also be featured speakers.

Additional information and a Call for Posters will be sent out shortly.

MDRTC Pilot and Feasibility Program

The MDRTC"s pilot and feasibility program is generally funded by NIH with $250,000 annually. We applied for and received American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds for pilot studies in 2010 and were able to award nearly $450,000 to fund five pilot studies and two Diabetes Interdisciplinary Study Program studies.

2010 Pilot/Feasibility Study Grant Program Awardees

Roseanne Armitage, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry, "Measurement of sleep physiology in obese and type 2 diabetic patients"

Markus Bitzer, MD, Assistant Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Nephrology, "The role of microRNA-21 in diabetic nephropathy"

Christopher Krebs, PhD, Research Investigator, Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Human Genetics, "Distinguishing the mouse RsI genes as genetic modifiers of hepatic insulin sensitivity"

David Lombard, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Pathology, Research Assistant Professor, Institute of Gerontology, "Novel mechanisms of pyruvate dehydrogenase complex regulation"

Lei Yin, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology, "Circadian regulation of AMPK signaling and glucose metabolism by the transcription repressor E4BP4 "

2010 Diabetes Interdisciplinary Study Program Awardees

Steve Lentz, PhD, Research Assistant Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, Division of MEND and Roni M. Shtein, MD, Assistant Professor, Department of Ophthalmology, "In vivo corneal confocal microscopy for non-invasive assessment of diabetic peripheral neuropathy"

Amy Rothberg, MD, Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, Division of MEND and Jon-Kar Zubieta, MD, PhD, Phil F. Jenkins Research Professor of Depression, Professor of Psychiatry and Radiology and Research Professor, Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience Institute, "Neurohormonal & behavioral correlates of obesity"

Honors and Awards

Martin G. Myers, Jr., MD, PhD, is the winner of the 2011 Ernst Oppenheimer Award from The Endocrine Society. This is the premier award presented to a young investigator in recognition of meritorious accomplishment in the field of basic or clinical endocrinology. Dr. Myers" work is with leptin, a protein hormone that plays a key role in appetite control and energy expenditure. This work has important implications for further research on obesity and addiction, since leptin signaling appears to impact our motivation for food and other desires.

MDRTC Researchers in the News

Michele Heisler finds that peer mentoring is a powerful tool for diabetes behavior change
Michele Heisler, MD, MPA, Associate Professor of Internal Medicine, Research Scientist at the Center for Clinical Management Research at the Ann Arbor VA, and Co-Investigator in the Measurement Core of the MDRTC, is passionate about finding new approaches to give people with chronic illness the flexible, long-term support they need. For more information go to: )

Caroline Richardson finds that Social interactions are a powerful tool for online health programs

Caroline Richardson, MD, Associate Professor of Family Medicine, and her colleagues found that adding an interactive online community to an Internet-based walking program significantly decreased the number of participants who dropped out. Seventy-nine percent of participants who used online forums to motivate each other stuck with the 16-week program. Only 66 percent of those who used a version without the social network components completed the program. Still, both groups saw equal improvements in how much they walked while using the program"s web interface to track their progress - about a mile per day.

"Brick by brick we have been building a model of how to change health behaviors using online tools," Richardson says. "We can see that social components can help to mitigate the big downside that Internet-mediated programs have had in the past, namely attrition."

For health programs with a national or international scope, even small reductions in attrition could lead to positive health outcomes for large numbers of people and significant system-wide cost savings.

While one-on-one interventions can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars, the web-based approach has the potential to deliver similar results at a much lower cost. The pedometers used in Richardson"s program cost $34 each. A website like the one they used is expensive to set up, but becomes cheaper on a per-person basis over time and as the size of the program increases. Plus, much of the content is provided for free by participants as they share tips and encouragement.

"There"s already a huge demand for change that we"re not meeting in the health system," Richardson says. "There are people who know what they want - help losing weight, sleeping through the night, improving their diet – but they don"t have guidance. They don"t have the necessary behavioral skills or support that will allow them to be successful. That"s where these types of programs fit in."

Moreover, as social media networks become even more integrated into the fabric of American life, there will be additional opportunities to harness their power, encouraging participation and disseminating information at a low cost by piggybacking on that existing infrastructure.

"For many people, if you give them a path that's likely to be successful and it's not too painful, they'll do it," Richardson says.