I'm Dr. Jill Crandall. I'm Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine and the Director of the Diabetes Clinical Trials Unit at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Our center has been a nationally-recognized center for specialized diabetes research for over 20 years. Investigators at our center have been involved in a wide range of diabetes research, from basic studies into how diabetes develops, to the development of new treatments for diabetes, and the development of community-based programs to bring the results of these studies to people in the community who are at high risk of diabetes.
One of the major discoveries that's come out of our institution is a better understanding of how the high blood sugar levels characteristic of diabetes lead to tissue damage that cause the complications such as blindness, kidney failure, and amputation. The importance of good blood sugar control has also been demonstrated in the landmark Diabetes Control and Complications Trial, which is conducted at a number of sites, including one at our center. In this study, people with type 1 diabetes were treated carefully to control blood sugar levels close to normal. And this was very effective at reducing the rate of complications, including heart disease, which is a major health problem for people with diabetes.
Cases of type 2 diabetes are dramatically increased recently, most likely because of the high rates of obesity. Another study that we've been involved in is the Diabetes Prevention Program, which has looked at the ability of lifestyle modifications such as modest weight loss and exercise to reduce the risk of diabetes. And fortunately, this is a disease that really can be prevented with rather modest changes in weight and exercise.
Type 2 diabetes is a major problem, especially for the elderly in our population, where almost 50 percent of people over the age of 65 are affected either by diabetes or a milder form of high blood sugar called pre-diabetes. The interventions that we tested in the Diabetes Prevention Program were especially effective in this older population, so I think that's really good news.
My own research interests are in the area of mild diabetes in the elderly and its relationship to heart disease risk. And we're conducting studies to look at the nature of this association and whether treatment will reduce the risk of heart disease.