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Madras Diabetes Research Foundation and Emory University inaugurate new Global Diabetes Research Center in Siruseri

17 August 2007

Emory University (Atlanta, USA) and the Madras Diabetes Research Foundation (MDRF) (Chennai, India) joined together today to establish a global centre for research on diabetes at the Women’s Biotech Park in Siruseri, a “knowledge” hub city near Chennai.

Dr. Viswanathan Mohan, president of MDRF, and Dr. James Curran, Dean of Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health (RSPH) were on hand to inaugurate the new Centre, which will initially occupy 300 sq. ft. of MDRF’s Siruseri facility and expand to more than 3,000 sq. ft. over the next few years. Emory University has agreed to invest around one million US dollars, including a recent funding grant from Emory’s Global Health Institute, into the project over a period of five years. MDRF has made a major commitment to provide the facility and other infrastructure, equipment, and personnel.

The project is aimed at strengthening epidemiological research on diabetes in India and South Asia. Predictions for the growth of diabetes in this region indicate a serious need for such a collaborative research effort. India alone, which currently has an estimated 41 million diabetics, is projected to have 70 million with the disease by 2025.

“Although the exact reasons for Indians being more susceptible to diabetes are still not clear, there are certain unique characteristics of this ethnic group which are collectively called the Asian Indian phenotype,” said Dr. Mohan. “This includes increased insulin resistance and higher waist circumference despite lower body mass index and some unique genetic factors that could contribute to their increased predilection towards diabetes.”

Dr. Mohan said that the collaboration would lead to solutions that would help reduce the burden of diabetes in India and the rest of the world. Dr. Mohan will be Co-Principal Investigator for the Centre, along with Dr. K.M. Venkat Narayan, Hubert Chair of Global Health and Professor of Epidemiology at RSPH.

Dr. Curran said India and the U.S. had many things in common besides tremendous scientific and research capabilities: “they also share an epidemic.” As a result, the Centre will conduct India-U.S. comparative studies. “The best way to understand the epidemic is to study its pattern in both countries, where it is manifested differently,” he said.

As a part of the venture, both institutions are planning for research student exchange programmes. According to Mohan, through this the students would be able to gain a wider insight into the disease.

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