Endocrinology and diabetes

Research highlights

University of Minnesota Physicians is at the forefront of leading-edge diabetes research to cure this devastating disease, giving patients access to the newest and most promising treatments. Extensive research on diabetes at the University of Minnesota is based at the Schulze Diabetes Institute. 

International leadership in pancreas, islet transplants
In 1966 two University surgeons performed the world’s first pancreas transplant on a patient with diabetes since then the University of Minnesota has pioneered major advances in transplants of the pancreas and islet cells. These transplants help people with diabetes receive living tissue that produces the insulin they need. The University’s transplant program is now the largest — and one of the most successful — in the world. Nearly 10 percent of the pancreas or islet transplants worldwide are performed at the University of Minnesota.

University researchers participate in Trial Net, a major national study of methods to prevent type 1 diabetes. University of Minnesota researchers also participate in national clinical trials of diabetes treatments such as the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT) and Action to Control Cardiovascular Risk in Diabetes (ACCORD). The DCCT study demonstrated that intensive treatment of type 1 diabetes protects against the development of diabetes complications. The ACCORD study helped define optimal treatments of blood glucose, blood pressure and blood lipids (fats) in people with type 2 diabetes.

In addition to these national studies, University researchers conduct studies of nutrition, weight loss strategies, exercise, new diabetes medications, hypoglycemia, treatment for cystic fibrosis-related diabetes and a variety of diabetes-related basic science issues.

Partnership to defeat diabetes
The University of Minnesota and Mayo Clinic launched a partnership in October 2010 to make transformational discoveries that will defeat diabetes. The Minnesota Partnership for Biotechnology and Medical Genomics  is undertaking this research, with the ultimate goal of curing diabetes. Besides major quality of life consequences for people with diabetes, treatment costs $170 billion a year in the United States. Minnesota is a leader in diabetes research, with Mayo’s prominence in endocrinology research and the University’s major investments in the science of regeneration.

Clinical trials in islet transplantation
The University of Minnesota is among seven U.S. sites for clinical trials in the Clinical Islet Transplantation Consortium. This clinical trial, funded by the National Institutes of Health, is determining whether transplantation of islet cells will become an FDA-approved treatment for people who have difficulty managing type 1 diabetes. 


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