National Institutes of Health Awards $1.3 Million for Diabetes Research at The University of Texas at Austin

Oct. 20, 2009

AUSTIN, Texas — Dr. Sharon Brown, associate dean for research and professor of nursing at The University of Texas at Austin, has received a four-year, $1.3 million National Institutes of Health grant to identify ways to achieve better glycemic control in persons with type 2 diabetes.

Sharon Brown

Brown is trying to find out why so few people with diabetes achieve glycemic control. To achieve it, individuals must change their dietary habits, increase their physical activity, adhere to prescribed medications and self-monitor glucose levels several times a day. Glycemic control refers to the typical levels of blood sugar (glucose) in a person with diabetes.

"Glycemic control improves health outcomes in persons with type 2 diabetes, but fewer than 30 percent of these individuals achieve glycemic goals," said Brown, adding that tight glucose control reduces diabetes complications by 50 to 75 percent. Only 10 percent achieve the three major health goals of controlling glycemia, blood pressure and lipids, primarily cholesterol.

"What we don't know is how to motivate individuals to make these critical behavioral changes," Brown said.

Past research has explored many intervening variables that may affect behavior change and health outcomes, but the studies have not been systematically reviewed nor synthesized. Brown's new research will analyze all the research that has been done in the past, examining possible mechanisms whereby behavioral change can be fostered, then test a series of predictive models using meta-analysis research methods.

"It is imperative to synthesize these studies to inform clinical guidelines so that health care providers can effectively address the growing global diabetes epidemic," said Brown, a specialist in health promotion and disease prevention in Mexican Americans with type 2 diabetes. Her diabetes research grants since 1992 now total more than $7 million. This new research employs meta-analytic methods to test a model explaining health outcomes in type 2 diabetes, an approach never before used in diabetes research.

Brown discusses her diabetes research at various speaking engagements, including a recent talk at the Joslin Diabetes Center, which is affiliated with Harvard University Medical School. She was invited there to consult with physicians, nurses, dietians and staff involved in the Latin Diabetes Initiative.

Type 2 diabetes affects more than 23.6 million Americans or 8 percent of the U.S. population. As a growing global epidemic, diabetes may be the No. 1 health problem of this generation, Brown said.

"Plausible explanations for low rates of glycemic control are depression, side effects of diabetes treatments, including medications, and the complexities of self-management—all of which may negatively impact one's quality of life," she said. "With the need to control health care costs associated with the rapidly growing worldwide diabetes epidemic, efficient approaches must be identified or the majority of persons with diabetes will remain in poor glycemic control."

For more information, contact: Nancy Neff; Sharon Brown, School of Nursing, 512-232-4710.

15 Comments to "National Institutes of Health Awards $1.3 Million for Diabetes Research at The University of Texas at Austin"

1.  Jerry Levinstein said on Oct. 21, 2009

I am interested in contacting someone who would help me produce an item similar to the current device used for the detection of sugar in blood. This item is unrelated to the medical field. Thank you.

2.  Karl E. Henion, II said on Oct. 21, 2009

Several months ago I was diagnosed as having type 2. Thanks to the Seton Diabetes Eduction Center, I learned how to start controlling it via almost all of Professor Brown's steps. I am thankful for her research and if she doesn't mind would like to drop by and meet her.

3.  Roger L. Gose, M.D. said on Oct. 22, 2009

I applaud the research described. It seems to me the greatest initiative should be aimed at the 57 million (or so) pre-diabetics. Inform practicing physicians regarding the desperate need to aggressively modify behavior, prevent beta cell exhaustion, before the diagnosis of diabetes is made. In essence, focus on the patient with blood sugars in the 100-126 range, emphasizing that the diagnosis of D.M. is equivalent to established cardiovascular disease. Most important focus on visceral obesity, "the apple." If we don't solve the obesity epidemic, most especially in children, we won't significantly reduce the impact of D.M., and we won't reduce the escalating cost of health care globally. R.G.

4.  Marilyn McDowell said on Oct. 22, 2009

Dr. Brown, I applaud you for your research. I am 59 and was diagnosed with diabetes 2 last fall. I have a daughter (adopted) who is a film student at UT who I hope will one day make a documentary about diabetes and what people go through when they get this disease. Katie at age 8 had a friend who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and Katie has seen what she goes through and has been interested in diabetes. Katie was a Sweetheart here in Houston for the American Diabetes Association (a girl who devotes a year to helping raise funds for Diabetes Research and volunteering at events to educate the public about diabetes)her sophomore year in high school because of her awareness through her childhood friend. Her friend continues to do well and is in college at Tulane.

As you are aware, and I am learning, diabetes is a very patient disease. It can wait however long it takes for the patient to wear down their fight, and you will and then it takes you. I believe most people with diabetes come to this acknowledgment soon after being diagnosed. I did, and I understand the fight I am in. I believe most people want to control their glucose, have every intention of doing so, but you are required to give up so much, required to do so much and with time, you just get tired. I have talked to older people in their 80s who have been battling this for years. This is what they tell me. Now, they see the end of their lives coming and they just want to enjoy whatever time they have left and if that means eating that chocolate cake, so be it.

How does one combat that, the realization that we all will die one day and to give up so much of enjoying what life has to offer just to live maybe a few years more. Why? I think most doctors DON'T go into the emotional aspect of what people are going through. They only deal with the physical aspect. The two go very much in hand.

So, good luck to you and I pray for all who are dealing every minute of every day of their lives with this disease. I know I think about it all day every day.

5.  Bill Price said on Oct. 22, 2009

I have had diabetes since 1985. It requires a lifestyle change to control the glucose levels in the blood. Yet I can not explain the ups and downs of the levels when no obvious causes are recalled. Good luck with the research. It is surely needed. By the way I am now 79 years old with no apparent ill effects from diabetes.

6.  Madelene said on Oct. 22, 2009

I have several friends who have totally reversed diabetes 1 and 2 with diet. Yes, diet, and have remained diabetes free. No sugar, no white flour and mostly raw foods. They did it, and now are insulin free!

7.  Sherry said on Oct. 22, 2009

I also have been recently diagnosed with diabetes and have changed my diet (no sugar, no grains or simple carbs, only good oils, complex carbs and good proteins) and am struggling with adding exercise to my lifestyle. I knew that I needed to change my lifestyle, but until I was diagnosed was unable to make the necessary changes. Keep up the research. Maybe you can make some changes that will help my children to make the changes before being diagnosed.

8.  Pamela Weems said on Oct. 22, 2009

Dr. Brown, are you familiar with the work of Dr. Gabriel Cousens, M.D., and the Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center in Patagonia, Ariz.? A documentary of his work with Type I and II diabetics was filmed. It is titled "Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days." I believe he has had tremendous success in treating diabetics who were willing, as you say, to modify their behavior. In addition, Victoria Boutenko in her book "Green for Life" relates her success in treating her son's diabetes without resorting to medicine. Again, a behavioral change was key. "When the pupil is ready, the teacher will come." When we are highly enough motivated, and the cost of NOT changing is great (or there is no health care available), we can do much to heal ourselves.

9.  cristina cabello c.de martinez, ph.d said on Oct. 22, 2009

Dr. Brown, congratulations on this incredible grant! Much, much goodness will come about from your research! Godspeed!

10.  John Ramos said on Oct. 23, 2009

I have type 2 diabetes. It runs in the family, but not all. Dr. Brown, thanks for your research. Keep us informed on your studies. Also, of any new drugs on the horizon. I take Metformin.

11.  Buddy Jones R.Ph. said on Oct. 23, 2009

Congratulations, Dr. Sharon Brown on your NIH grant. I know as a pharmacist the impact of diabetes on health care in Texas and look forward to learning about the results of your studies. Best wishes.

12.  mary teeple said on Oct. 26, 2009

Great! Wonderful for UT and all! Will there be research for diabetes type 1? My precious great niece, age 1+, has it.

13.  Thalia Juarez said on Oct. 28, 2009

Dr. Brown, I am very excited about your research and most thankful for the given grant, which I believe to be a gift to every type 2 diabetic in the nation. This includes me. I was diagnosed with type 2 a couple of weeks ago. Even though most members of my immediate family (not to mention my extended family) suffer from some type or form of diabetes, I am most convinced that more awareness on the illness, along with advanced technology, and newer forms of research (such as yours), will pave the way for newer findings, treatments and, why not, a cure! I am working on a school-related project. It consists of a book oriented toward young Hispanic women (like myself) who find themselves trapped between two walls: that of type 1 diabetes and the other of an unfamiliar, undesired lifestyle. In this book, I plan to promote self-discovery, while educating myself and others on diabetes. My goal is then to turn to my culture for answers on how to prevent the disease, how to treat it, how to physically help control it, and how to emotionally cope with it. This book has given me the opportunity to better know myself, my body and to better care for my health. I have many hopes for my writing, and your research. On a final note, it was a blessing to learn more about you and your work. May the hope and desire to encourage people to fight diabetes type 2 prevail in your heart, as it will in mine, always.

14.  Kurt Whisenant said on Nov. 6, 2009

I'm so glad to hear that someone is trying to make a difference in preventing diabetes. I was diagnosed Nov. 24, 2008 with type 1 diabetes, and for those of you out there complaining about everyday life struggles, try having this disease for a day. I have worked well with controlling my blood sugar level, as well as my diet. I cannot wait until I have the chance next fall to be in Austin and meet with someone who is fighting for the cure. I cannot wait until the day I do not have to take a shot every time I have to eat. I have to tell myself that at least it is me and not someone who could not deal with having the disease. I cannot stress enough to those of you who have type 2 diabetes to maintain a healthy diet and exersize daily. I hope that everyone finds out great things for our future and the future generations. God bless.

15.  zohra abbas said on Nov. 17, 2009

I have type 2 diabetes. I am willing to help with this research. I have some courses in chemistry, physics, anatomy, physiology and pathophysiology. I am a resident of Kansas.