UNC Health Care

UNC School of Medicine researcher receives American Diabetes Association award

Media contact: Kim Elenez, 919-962-1628, kelenez@email.unc.edu

February 15, 2016

CHAPEL HILL, NC – Praveen Sethupathy, PhD, an assistant professor in the department of genetics at the UNC School of Medicine, is one of six scientists to receive a prestigious 2016 Pathway to Stop Diabetes grant from the American Diabetes Association.

The award amount is $1.625 million over five years, along with career support and resources that will enable Sethupathy to apply his talents to transformational research approaches to treat and stop diabetes.

Sethupathy received a Pathway Accelerator Award for a basic research project to identify the genetic factors that contribute most to shaping the way the gastrointestinal tract responds to microorganisms and dietary challenges.

“These studies are at the interface of systems genetics, non-coding RNA biology, intestinal physiology, and microbiome research,” said Sethupathy. “The findings could lead to new therapeutic targets that to prevent or effectively treat diabetes and related metabolic diseases.”

This is the third year the American Diabetes Association has provided grants through the Pathway to Stop Diabetes research initiative, which encourages and enables top researchers to commit their careers to diabetes. Sethupathy is Carolina’s second recipient; Zhen Gu, PhD, assistant professor in the UNC/NC State joint department of biomedical engineering, received an award in 2015. Gu is using the funds to create synthetic versions of beta cells, the body’s natural insulin-producing factories.

Pathway grants provide investigators with freedom, autonomy, financial support, and professional resources that set them on the road to breakthrough discoveries. Program sponsors Sanofi, AstraZeneca, the Eli Lilly and Company Foundation, and Novo Nordisk, as well as numerous other corporations, individuals, and foundations, have donated more than $40 million toward the effort.

“Diabetes is a complex, multifaceted disease that presents significant challenges for discovering methods for prevention, treatment, and ultimately cures,” said Dr. Desmond Schatz, president, Medicine and Science, American Diabetes Association. “We need to recruit the best minds to pursue answers to all of the complexities of diabetes and diabetes-related complications so that we can end this devastating disease.“

Grant recipients are chosen by a mentor advisory group, which is comprised of preeminent scientists and leaders in diabetes research. They look for the core elements for exceptional science: rigorous thought processes, keen intellect, and capacity for innovation, creativity, and productivity. The advisors also provide Pathway grant recipients with mentorship and scientific and professional guidance over the course of their awards.

To learn more about the Pathway to Stop Diabetes, including other winners of this year’s grants, go to: http://diabetes.org/pathway/