City of Hope has established a new Diabetes Research Center that will expand its pioneering investigations into diabetes, endocrinology and metabolic diseases, create an infrastructure to support translational research and enhance clinical care for diabetes and its related complications.
The center in many ways mirrors the structure of City of Hope's Comprehensive Cancer Center, in which scientists collaborate with physicians to translate research findings into new treatments for patients. Scientists and clinicians in the new diabetes center will have a structure to work more collaboratively -- and strategically -- on promising research ranging from islet cell transplantation to designing drugs to target molecules associated with diabetes and other metabolic diseases to better understand the increasingly evident links between cancer and diabetes.
The announcement of the formalized center was made on March 20 during the 11th annual Rachmiel Levine Diabetes and Obesity Symposium at The Langham Huntington, in Pasadena, Calif., by Michael A. Friedman, M.D., president and chief executive officer of City of Hope.
"City of Hope has made landmark contributions in diabetes research and care, and our Diabetes Research Center reflects our increasing commitment to advancing understanding of this condition and its associated complications," said Friedman, the Irell & Manella Cancer Center Director's Distinguished Chair. "It will enable City of Hope to continue its vital role in improving treatment for type 1 and 2 diabetes."
City of Hope researchers have made seminal biomedical research discoveries that have transformed the treatment of diabetes. In the 1940s, the late Rachmiel Levine, M.D., first identified the role of human insulin in glucose metabolism. Two decades later, Samuel Rahbar, M.D., Ph.D., discovered that hemoglobin A1c could serve as a marker for controlling blood glucose in patients with diabetes. In 1978, Arthur Riggs, Ph.D., and Keiichi Itakura, Ph.D., genetically engineered bacteria through a technology known as recombinant DNA. This technology led to the development of synthetic human insulin and human growth hormone. Today, City of Hope is a leader in islet cell transplantation, an investigational procedure for the treatment for type 1 diabetes.
Nearly 26 million people in the U.S. have diabetes and an estimated 79 million U.S. adults have prediabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If these trends continue, the CDC estimates that as many as one in three U.S. adults could have diabetes by 2050.
For more than half a century, City of Hope researchers have been investigating cancer and diabetes and for the past several decades they have been studying obesity, now linked to the increased risk of diabetes and cancer. With the creation of the Diabetes Research Center, City of Hope is well-positioned to deepen its explorations into the commonalities of these diseases, and broaden treatment options for patients.
City of Hope's growing commitment to diabetes research most recently was demonstrated with the opening of the new Leslie & Susan Gonda (Goldschmied) Diabetes and Genetic Research Center expansion on March 15. This four-story structure doubles research space for diabetes and metabolic diseases, and now totals more than 80,000 square feet.
The Gonda Center expansion houses research teams that will focus on furthering the science of islet cell transplantation, an artificial pancreas and stem cell research. Researchers also will be investigating the molecular roots of disease to develop drugs targeting molecules associated with diabetes and other metabolic diseases. This metabolic research is aimed at uncovering the genetic causes of type 2 diabetes, and producing new therapies that target the mechanisms responsible for metabolic disease.
Globally, more than 220 million people have diabetes, according to the World Health Organization, and the epidemic is growing. City of Hope is also working on new technologies that will advance the care of patients with diabetes worldwide.