Penn State Hershey researcher receives $765,000 for diabetes research

Work done by Penn State College of Medicine’s Dr. Alaa S. Awad to identify potential new therapies for diabetic kidney disease recently earned $765,000 through Novo Nordisk’s Diabetes Innovation Award Program. Awad’s proposal was selected from 95 research proposals.

Awad’s submission was one of four research proposals that received funding from Novo Nordisk. The collaboration will potentially translate scientific discoveries into innovations that help patients with diabetic kidney disease to receive better treatment and live a more rewarding life.

Diabetes mellitus is a global health issue. The number of diagnosed and undiagnosed cases of diabetes in the United States is progressively increasing and is expected to rise between 25 to 32 percent by the year 2050. Current therapies, which include blood pressure control, glucose control and other life styles changes, have been modestly successful in delaying the progression of renal failure.

Pigment epithelium derived factor -- or PEDF -- plays a role in diabetes but its direct effect in the kidney remains unclear. Awad’s research demonstrates that expression and localization of PEDF in the kidney were significantly reduced in a diabetic mouse model. The results of this research will provide a basis for the development of new therapeutic options in the development and progression of diabetes kidney disease. An understanding of the interaction between diabetes and PEDF may help to clarify the mechanism involved in diabetic renal disease and lead to the development of new therapeutics to manage the disease.

The Diabetes Innovation Award Program facilitates translation of new ideas from early diabetes and obesity research into innovations by bringing new concepts to a pre-clinical proof of principal milestone. The program is open to scientists and academic and medical research institutions in the United States and Canada.

Dr. Awad is an assistant professor of Medicine and cellular and molecular physiology at Penn State College of Medicine. The Diabetes Innovation Award gives his research the opportunity to be funded and Novo Nordisk an option on any inventions that come from his work. Industry-sponsored research can play a substantial role in funding for clinical and translational research. As opportunities for federal funding become more competitive, industry-sponsored research is becoming an alternative option for researchers to exchange ideas, information and resources.

This work was in collaboration with Dr. Joyce Tombran-Tink (Department of Neural and Behavioral Science at Penn State College of Medicine) as a co-investigator who is a leader in PEDF biology.

Dr. Awad's laboratory also is supported by a recently funded NIH R01 grant, NIH K99/R00 grant, and the Pennsylvania Department of Health using Tobacco CURE Funds.

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Last Updated March 14, 2013