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DRC Director's Report - September 2023

Health and Human Physiology assistant professor Anna Stanhewicz has just been awarded a five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health totaling $3.035 million to put towards her research. Her focus lies in gestational diabetes and the long-term impact it has on those who have had it. 

Women who develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy are two times more likely to develop cardiovascular disease and 7 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes in the decade after pregnancy, but the reason why this occurs is unclear and there are currently no specific treatment strategies to prevent this disease progression.

This project addresses this public health issue. The grant will help fund her research for the next five years. “I was very surprised and really excited,” Stanhewicz says on earning the grant. “Career-wise, it’s a big step; getting this grant will help me continue to establish my work at the university, as an independent investigator capable of conducting meaningful research on campus.” 

Stanhewicz reflects that, although she had long researched high blood pressure during pregnancy, it was the FOEDRC that inspired her to craft a research plan to study gestational diabetes. During her first summer at the university, when the pandemic was at its peak and human volunteers were low, the FOEDRC sent out a call for proposals, which Stanhewicz was happy to respond to. 

The FOEDRC reviewed her proposal favorably, recognizing the potential impact of her project. The pilot grant funding from the FOEDRC helped her research project grow into what eventually received the major federal NIH grant. “If it weren’t for the diabetes research center, I probably wouldn’t have pursued this research question at all,” Stanhewicz explains. 

Stanhewicz says she is grateful to the diabetes research center, but also to the people who volunteer their time for the sake of research. “All the research that we do in my lab and in a lot of groups on campus is really dependent on human volunteer subjects, so we’re really indebted and appreciative of them for the effort that they put into the work,” says Stanhewicz. “As scientists, we get a lot of credit, but the participants really are an equal part of the team. We appreciate them.”

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