Massachusetts General Hospital Diabetes Unit, Mass.

So at the Massachusetts General HospitalMassachusetts General Hospital in Boston and at our diabetes center here, we've been conducting clinical research for more than 25 years. Clinical research meaning studies in humans to try to figure out what causes diabetes, how we can prevent it, how we can treat it better, and in particular, how we can prevent the complications -- the complications that affect the eyes, the kidneys, the nerves and the heart -- from occurring. The work that we are currently engaged in, that is part of a very large research profile, and the research that I am very excited about, are two projects that I'll describe.

One of them is the idea that we can maybe prevent type 1 diabetes. So type 1 diabetes is the, used to be called 'juvenile onset diabetes' or 'insulin dependent diabetes,' and it is caused by an autoimmune attack on the insulin producing cells of the pancreas. One of my collaborators, Dr. Denise Faustman, has discovered that she can prevent this type of diabetes in mice. Now it's good news for the mice of course, but whether it applies to humans is what we are now starting to study. So we're going to try to determine whether a fairly simple manipulation of the immune system can prevent the development of type 1 diabetes -- or even cure it in people who already have diabetes.

Another project, or another set of projects, that we're very excited about is trying to figure out: what is the connection between type 2 diabetes and type 1 diabetes and heart disease? Heart disease is the major killer of people with type 2 diabetes and we have a number of studies that are trying to figure out: what is the genetic risk, what is the environmental risk, why do people with diabetes get so much heart disease, and how can we prevent it from occurring?

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