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University of Florida Firsts


For diabetes, the University of Florida is the first academic health center in the nation to:

  • Use islet cell autoantibodies to perform large scale screening of school children to predict future cases of type 1 diabetes (1970s)
  • One of the first areas in Florida and the US to receive state funding to add diabetes patient educators to clinic settings (1979)
  • Report a newly defined disorder (autoimmune polyglandular syndrome) that included type 1 diabetes (1980s)
  • Perform large studies using immune suppressive agents to reverse type 1 diabetes (1980s)
  • Demonstrate two autoantibodies (insulin and glutamic acid decarboxylase) predict diabetes in the general population (1980s)
  • Evaluate the psychological impact of predictive screening for type 1 diabetes (1990s)
  • First pediatric-specific program in Florida to receive Diabetes Education Program Recognition certification from the American Diabetes Association (1997)
  • Test a cord blood stem cell therapy to help alleviate type 1 diabetes in very young children (2000s)
  • 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)
  • Develop a nationwide repository (nPOD) for tissues obtained from human organ donors with diabetes (2006)
  • Host an annual university-wide lighting ceremony in recognition of World Diabetes Day and Diabetes Awareness Month (Began 2008)
  • Test a combination of 2 FDA approved drugs (Neulasta and Thymoglobulin) as a means of reversing type 1 diabetes (2010)
  • Pioneer one of only two research studies in the United States estimating the annual economic cost of type 1 diabetes. Source: Tao B, Pietropaolo M, Atkinson M, Schatz D, Taylor D. Estimating the cost of type 1 diabetes in the US: a propensity score matching method. PLoS One 2010; 5: 11501
  • Discover that people at risk for type 1 diabetes have smaller pancreas than their counterparts with no risk factors (2012)
  • Serve as one of two study sites in Florida to determine if an FDA approved medication used to treat type II diabetes mellitus may improve blood sugar control in adolescents who have clinically-diagnosed type 1 diabetes and are overweight (2013)
  • Report that sugars fructose and sucrose play a key role in the development of fatty liver and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, and reverse the metabolic pathway of fructose in mice (2013)
  • Identify a functional protein (iHoP) which plays a critical role in the cascade of events leading to type 1 diabetes (2013)
  • Employ imaging technologies to determine whether people who are at high risk of type 1 diabetes start out with smaller pancreas volume or whether the beginning of the onset of the disease causes the pancreas volume to shrink (2014)
  • Discover that the variety of bacteria in a child’s digestive tract plays a role in the development of type 1 diabetes (2014)
  • Contribute to an American Diabetes Association position statement about diabetes in the child care setting (2014).