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University of Florida Firsts

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Did You Know?

The University of Florida is widely considered to be among the top five in the nation for Type 1 diabetes research. UF is internationally recognized for its efforts in diabetes care and research, and houses a model for statewide diabetes education through collaboration with UF IFAS Extension in all 67 Florida counties. The UF Diabetes Institute is a leader in clinical trials seeking to prevent or reverse the disease and has been remarkably successful in acquiring competitive research grant funding from national agencies, including the National Institutes of Health, JDRF and the American Diabetes Association. Based on their success, UF scientists, researchers and physicians have the opportunity to take this research further.

University of Florida Firsts

For Type 1 diabetes, UF is the first United States academic institution to:

  • Use islet cell autoantibodies to perform large scale screening of school children to predict future cases of the disease (1970s)
  • Reported a newly defined disorder (autoimmune polyglandular syndrome) that included Type 1 diabetes (1980s)
  • Perform large studies using immune suppressive agents to reverse the disease (1980s)
  • Show that two autoantibodies (insulin and glutamic acid decarboxylase) predict disease in the general population (1980s)
  • Evaluate the psychological impact of predictive screening for the disorder (1990s)
  • Perform a cord blood stem cell therapy for alleviating the disease in very young children (2000s)
  • Develop a nationwide repository for tissues obtained from organ donors with Type 1 diabetes (2000s)
  • Test a combination of 2 FDA-approved drugs (Neulasta and Thymoglobulin) as a means of reversing Type 1 diabetes (2010s)

Trailblazing discoveries

  • UF was the first academic institution to add diabetes patient educators to clinic settings (1979)
  • UF was the first pediatric-specific program to receive Diabetes Education Program Recognition certification from the American Diabetes Association (1997)
  • Demonstrate adult blood stem cells can function to build blood vessels useful in the treatment of diabetes-related vision loss (2000s)
  • Produce stem cells that secrete endocrine hormones: insulin, glucagon, somatostatin and pancreatic polypeptide for treatment and reversal of Type 1 diabetes in mice (2000s)
  • Host an annual university-wide lighting ceremony in recognition of World Diabetes Day and Diabetes Awareness Month (2008-2015)
  • Pioneer one of two research studies projecting the annual economic cost of Type 1 diabetes in the U.S. (2010)
  • Home-in on a specific protein that predicts Type 1 diabetes in mice (2011)
  • Discover pancreas size matters when it comes to people with type 1 diabetes and their counterparts (2012)
  • Contribute to the first study mapping obesity prevalence in rural and urban areas (2012)
  • Contribute to the first guidelines issued for treating Type 2 diabetes in youth (2013)
  • Serve as 1 of 2 study sites in Florida to study Metformin in treatment of overweight adolescents with Type 1 diabetes (2013)
  • Identify fructose and sucrose as key to development of NAFLD and NASH, and reverse liver disease in mice (2013)
  • Demonstrate link between bone marrow and the central nervous system in people and rodents with Type 1 diabetes, which alters immune systems (2013)
  • Identify a novel protein that plays a key role in pancreatic islet regulation of insulin production (2012)
  • Launch innovative “pancreas-shrinkage” study as a means of predicting Type 1 diabetes onset (2014)
  • Discover a variety of bacteria in a child’s digestive tract plays a role in the development of Type 1 diabetes (2014)
  • Contribute to the first ADA publication on considerations for young children with Type 1 diabetes in  child care (2014)
  • Game changer – Identify specific genes associated with Type 1 diabetes susceptibility in people (2015)