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University of Florida Firsts

For diabetes, the UF Health Diabetes Institute became the first United States 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 revers the disorder (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)
  • First pediatric-specific program in the state of Florida to receive the coveted Education Program Recognition certification from the ADA (1997)
  • 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)
  • Demonstrate adult blood stem cells can function to build blood vessels useful in the treatment of diabetes-related vision loss (2000s)
  • Produce stem cells cultured from rodent-bone marrow that secrete pancreatic endocrine hormones: insulin, glucagon, somatostatin and pancreatic polypeptide for diabetes treatment (2000s)
  • 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 to reverse type 1 diabetes (2010s)
  • Pioneer one of only two research studies providing annual cost estimates specifically for type 1 diabetes in the US. SourceTao 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. SourceCampbell-Thompson M, Wasserfall C, Montgomery EL, Atkinson MA, Kaddis JS. Pancreas organ weight in individuals with disease-associated autoantibodies at risk for type 1 diabetes. JAMA 2012; 308: 2337–39.
  • Serve as one of two study sites in the state of Florida to test whether the drug metformin, an oral medication, helps improve blood sugar control in adolescents who have clinically-diagnosed type 1 diabetes and are overweight (2013).
  • Identify a functional protein which plays a critical role in the cascade of events leading to type 1 diabetes (2013).