TAMPA — The University of South Florida added to its already-impressive tally of diabetes research dollars on Monday with the announcement it has received two more grants totaling nearly $60 million.
The grants come on top of the more than $400 million USF has received in the past decade — most of it from the National Institutes of Health — to study diabetes, a condition that afflicts more than 23 million Americans of all ages.
No other research institution has received as much NIH funding for Type 1 diabetes as USF, said Jeffrey Krischer, director of the university's diabetes center.
"It shows we have the best science, the best leadership," said Krischer, whom many credit for bringing in the sizable grants.
The first grant announced Monday was a $3.5 million award from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, which will be used for a study examining whether early diagnosis and treatment of the disease results in better long-term outcomes for patients.
The second, a $55.9 million grant from the NIH, will help continue USF's participation in an ambitious study of more than 8,000 youngsters from around the world who have been identified as being genetically at higher risk of getting the disease.
The Environmental Determinants of Type 1 Diabetes in Youth, or TEDDY, study began several years ago with the screening of more than 250,000 newborns in six countries, and eventually identified 8,000 babies who would be followed for 15 years.
Diabetes is a disease in which the body fails to produce insulin to properly control blood sugar. Most people who have it have the Type 2 form of the disease, which is often associated with obesity.
But about 5 to 10 percent have the more serious Type 1, for which the cause is unknown.
"Our goal is to prevent people from getting it," said Dr. Stephen Klasko, dean of the USF College of Medicine. "And I think we're closer than ever to that."
The $3.5 million grant from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation was the third grant the national group has awarded to USF, and the largest to date, said Carolyn Boos, executive director of its Tampa Bay chapter.
"That's a testament to the incredible work that they're doing there," Boos said.
USF officials announced the grants during a ceremony to mark the official opening of the school's new diabetes center, a 10,000-square-foot facility in the Carol & Frank Morsani Center for Advanced Healthcare on campus. Among those in attendance were several university trustees, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn.
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