University of Maryland Medical Center, Md.

I'm Dr. Alan Shuldiner, Head of the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Nutrition at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore.

If you have diabetes, you're certainly not alone. Unfortunately diabetes is all too common today, and it's a growing health concern. On the positive side, there's a lot of important research underway, here, as well as at other academic centers. In our laboratory, for example, we're working on identifying genes that cause diabetes and obesity. We've already found several gene variations that we believe are linked to disease, and we have discovered a new fat-derived hormone called omentin, which may be tied to high levels of abdominal fat as well as type 2 diabetes. Our goal is to learn new ways to prevent diabetes, and also to develop new and individualized kinds of treatments.

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We're also doing research on genetic factors that affect insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas, as well as new and innovative continuous glucose monitoring technologies which could help and be beneficial to people with type 1 diabetes. There are also many new options for treating and monitoring the disease available to patients at comprehensive diabetes centers such as the University of Maryland's Joslin Diabetes Center in Baltimore. If you have diabetes, there are new medications, improved insulin pumps, as well as more convenient ways to monitor your blood sugar levels. At the University of Maryland Medical Center, we've long been a leader in performing and improving pancreas transplants for those who could most benefit from this treatment. It's important to keep in mind that tight control of your blood sugar levels can prevent or delay complications. And even if you have a genetic risk of developing diabetes, our research with members of the Amish community in Pennsylvania suggest that you may be able to override the risk with a healthy diet and a consistent exercise program.

With continued research, we're gaining better understandings of diabetes everyday, which will benefit our patients for years to come. Indeed, the future of diabetes research has never been brighter.

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