The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

October 26, 2012

Diabetes research grant tops $10M for Hamm Diabetes Center

Norman Transcript / CNHI News Service

NORMAN, Okla. — A $10.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health will enable researchers at Harold Hamm Diabetes Center at the University of Oklahoma to examine the causes and complications of diabetes to lead to new methods of treatment and, in some cases, prevent complications of the disease. 

“We can no longer ignore the impact of diabetes on our state and on the world,” OU President David L. Boren said. “It is estimated that diabetes costs Oklahoma alone more than $3 billion each year, and the Centers for Disease Control predicts that one in three children born in the year 2000 will develop diabetes during their lifetime. This grant will help our researchers at Harold Hamm Diabetes Center to continue to lead the fight against these alarming statistics.”

The NIH Center of Biomedical Research Excellence, or COBRE, provides promising young researchers with the resources to build a strong foundation for research aimed at treating and preventing diabetes. The grant pairs these junior researchers with senior researchers as mentors to the development of their work, allowing new ideas and perspectives to be guided by mentors’ knowledge and expertise.

The grant also provides for the continued development of core research laboratory facilities and resources that enhance the center’s ability to perform world-class diabetes research.

“I believe that many of the major breakthroughs that will lead to a cure for diabetes will come from the contributions of young, bright scientists in the field,” said former Enid resident Harold Hamm, chairman and CEO of Continental Resources Inc. and chairman of the center’s board of advisors. “By providing these additional resources, I want to encourage our young investigators to look more intensely at the development of new and novel ideas that will lead to a cure for diabetes and its complications.”

Hamm, who provided the lead naming gift for the center in 2007, has bolstered the impact the COBRE grant will have by providing a $3 million gift to further diabetes research funded by the grant.

“Harold Hamm’s gift to augment the COBRE grant creates a unique public and private partnership to address the diabetes health crisis,” Boren said. “We are grateful for his continued leadership and tenacity in fighting the disease.”

This grant is a renewal of a $12 million grant awarded to the center in 2006, resulting in almost $23 million in total funding from this single grant program.

“The COBRE grant represents a remarkable return on investment,” said Blake Rambo, chief operating officer at the Harold Hamm Diabetes Center. “All five of the junior investigators who had projects funded by the 2006 COBRE were able to successfully attract new, independent grant funding for diabetes research at the center.

“Three junior investigators successfully obtained competitive R01 grant funding as a result of their studies under the COBRE, and two obtained grants from the American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association.” 

“The new COBRE funding will enable our researchers to focus on diabetes-related cardiovascular disease (Kenneth Humphries, Ph.D), vascular damage (Jian Xu, Ph.D), vision loss (Yun Le, Ph.D) and tissue damage (Franklin Hays, Ph.D),” said Jian-Xing Ma, Ph.D, laureate chair and professor of medicine, who serves as principal investigator of the COBRE grant. “Our investigators made many significant advances with the first round of COBRE funding, and the award of this renewal funding will allow them to build on those successes to make a meaningful impact on diabetes research.”

“These investigators represent the best of what’s to come in diabetes research, and to have them right here at the Harold Hamm Diabetes Center in Oklahoma, where they can have the greatest impact combating diabetes, is significant,” said Dr. Timothy Lyons, Chickasaw Nation chair in Diabetes Research and director of research and scientific affairs at the Harold Hamm Diabetes Center and an associate director and mentor on the COBRE grant.