Diabetes afflicts nearly 24 million Americans, and another 79 million have an increased risk for the disease. It is the seventh leading cause of death among all Americans and is a major cause of other deadly diseases. Annual healthcare costs associated with diabetes total $174 billion.
Because of these concerns, the Department of Health and Human Services has provided more than $500 million in Recovery Act funds to universities, hospitals, and related institutions to conduct research into diabetes. The goals are two-fold:
- Increase understanding of causes and treatments of the disease
- Invest in health information technology that can lead to better and more efficient care and prevention
Type 2 diabetes accounts for at least 90 percent of all cases. Two Recovery funded research projects – by University of Michigan and University of Virginia, respectively – are exploring the genetics of diabetes:
- A study building on recent discoveries of common genetic variants that contribute to type 2 diabetes
- A study to identify genetic contributors to diabetes and cardiovascular risk factors in African Americans, who are at elevated risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease
The National Institutes for Health has awarded two Recovery Act grants totaling $1 million to support scientific research to develop a new mobile application called “iHeal.” Scientists at the University of Massachusetts-Worcester and the Massachusetts Institute for Technology are testing an app that responds immediately to physiological changes in a person suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or substance abuse and proposes an appropriate intervention. Researchers say the technology would recognize “stressors that threaten a patient’s recovery and then [deliver] evidence-based interventions exactly at the moment of greatest need.”
If you think this app sounds pretty intelligent, it is! Learn how iHeal will work by visiting the HHS Recovery Site.