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DRC Director's Report - December 2018

As we come to the end of another successful year for the FOEDRC, I want to thank the FOE and my colleagues within the Diabetes Research Center for continuing to push the research boundaries to improve the lives of many who suffer from diabetes. On a personal note, I received a number of honors for my work this year including being asked to deliver the Presidential Lecture of the University of Iowa, receiving Fraternal Order of Eagles Humanitarian Award and the 2018 History Makers Award - the African American Museum of Iowa (AAMI). My receipt of this recognition is really a recognition of what you do and I consider myself very fortunate to lead such an outstanding organization. To close out the year I thought you might be interested in reading about some ways that our researchers are turning “fun and games” into a benefit for our patients with diabetes.

With funding from a pilot grant from the Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center, Philip Polgreen, MD, MPH, Professor in the Department of Internal Medicine and a member of the FOEDRC, along with collaborators in the Departments of Computer Science and Health and Human Physiology, built a mobile-health game called MapTrek designed to increase physical activity levels. The game uses data collected from a participant’s Fitbit and displays it on a map, along with the progress of other participants, creating a virtual race, with games situated in different locations, where participants can view scenic vistas as they progress along a different course each week. 


In a recent article in The Journal of the American Heart Association, Polgreen and his collaborators demonstrated that MapTrek increased activity over a Fitbit alone. 146 sedentary office workers, who reported sitting at least 75 percent of their workday, were assigned to either the MapTrek group or a Fitbit-only group. Data were collected for 10 weeks. The MapTrek group walked 2,092 more steps per day and were active for 11 more minutes per day compared with the Fitbit-only group. 


With additional funding from National Institutes of Health (NIDDK), Polgreen and his collaborators are now analyzing what appear to be very promising results for a trial among patients at high risk for developing diabetes. The research group hopes to use this type of intervention to increase physical activity in other groups at risk for diabetes.

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The Fraternal Order of Eagles, an international nonprofit organization, unites fraternally in the spirit of liberty, truth, justice and equality, to make human life more desirable by lessening its ills, and by promoting peace, prosperity, gladness and hope.

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