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ARRA Investments in Diabetes and Imaging


Public Health Burden
Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. Approximately 24 million Americans are estimated to have diabetes and another 57 million Americans are estimated to be at increased risk for developing the disease. Diabetes increases cardiovascular disease risk, and is the leading cause of kidney failure, lower limb amputations, and adult onset blindness.

Beta Cell Imaging
The development of imaging approaches to monitor mass and function of insulin-producing beta cells is important to understand the natural history of the disease and to monitor therapy. ARRA funded grants are exploring ways to improve imaging of beta cells:
  • Developing strategies to image transplanted human islets (beta cell clusters) in mouse models to solve technical barriers toward using this technology in humans.1
  • Investigating the potential of a new radiotracer molecule to overcome limitations in visualizing beta cells by positron emission tomography, a nuclear medicine imaging technique.2
Developing Imaging Techniques to Study Diabetes-Associated Conditions
The capacity to visualize tissues affected by either diabetes or obesity may improve the ability to predict, prevent, or treat these conditions. ARRA funded grants are exploring novel tissue imaging techniques.
  • Investigators are assessing whether imaging plaques in arteries can be used to determine the risk of coronary heart disease in people with diabetes.3
  • The recent discovery of brown fat in adults, which burns energy instead of storing it, may be a novel opportunity to stimulate weight loss. Toward that goal, investigators are developing tools to image and measure the amount and activity of brown fat.4
  • Investigators are defining and validating novel imaging-based measures of bone strength to better predict fragility fractures in people with diabetes.5
Studies of Diabetes-Associated Conditions Using Imaging Tools
With the global epidemics of obesity and diabetes, the burden of related chronic conditions is also increasing. It is critical to study the mechanisms underlying these conditions to develop strategies to prevent or reduce them. ARRA funded grants are using imaging tools to investigate these conditions:
  • The major risk factors for Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease include type 2 diabetes, obesity, and insulin resistance.  Investigators are characterizing this disease in a sample of the U.S. population to identify other risk factors important for prevention efforts.6
  • By determining the role of oxidative stress in cardiovascular and microvascular complications of type 1 diabetes, investigators hope to identify key biomarkers to lead to new and more specific therapeutic methods for reducing the risk of diabetic complications.7
  • By investigating the link between blood fat levels and heart function in people with type 2 diabetes, researchers hope to develop new blood-based biomarkers of heart disease in diabetes and provide insight into new therapeutic strategies.8
  • Toward the development of a new technique to evaluate the impact of diabetes and vascular disease in lower extremity muscle function, scientists are measuring changes in the calf muscles of people with diabetes with and without peripheral arterial disease.9
  • By determining the mechanism for the poor outcome of hyperglycemic patients to acute myocardial infarction, scientists hope to develop new approaches to improve outcomes.10
Neuroimaging in Diabetes and Metabolic Disease
Both obesity and diabetes can affect the brain and its function. Neuroimaging allows scientists to investigate the effects of these conditions on the brain. ARRA funded grants in this field include:
  • Studies of how diabetes alters blood flow regulation in the brain and contributes to cognitive decline in the elderly, and the development of approaches to prevent this diabetic complication.11
Basic Research Using Imaging Tools
To lay the basis for future treatment for diabetes and its complications, NIH ARRA funds also support basic investigations using imaging.  Examples include:
  • Investigating how changes in insulin activity, induced by diet and/or diabetes, affect molecules linked to behavior, in order to understand and prevent a contribution to psychostimulant abuse.12
  • Imaging the structure of a molecule whose deregulation is linked to type 2 diabetes and using this new structural information to propel development of novel therapeutics.13
  • Identifying genes that affect development of the zebrafish pancreas and using this information to develop strategies for cell-based replacement therapy to treat diabetes.14



  1. 1R21DK082894-01A1 -- Pancreas Imaging By Pretargeting the Islet Beta Cells -- Liu, Guozheng (MA)
  2. 1RC1DK087352-01 -- PET Imaging Agent for Diabetes Mellitus -- Mukherjee, Jogesh (CA)
  3. 1R01HL092989-01A1 -- Novel Imaging to Predict Cardiovascular Events in Diabetes -- Farkouh, Michael (NY)
  4. 1RC1DK087317-01 -- Imaging Strategies to Measure Brown Fat and Its Activity -- Kahn, Ronald (MA)
  5. 1RC1AR058405-01 -- Cortical Bone Porosity Identifies Diabetes Subjects with Fragility Fractures -- Link, Thomas (CA)
  6. 1R01DK083393-01A1 -- Epidemiology of Ultrasound-Defined NAFLD in the General U.S. Population -- Clark, Jeanne (MD)
  7. 1R01DK080732-01A1 -- Biomarkers for Complications in Type 1 Diabetes (DCCT/EDIC) -- Hazen, Stanley (OH)
  8. 1R01HL096461-01 -- Lipid Biomarkers for Diabetic Complications -- Ory, Daniel (MO)
  9. 1R21DK082987-01A1 -- The Effect of Diabetes, Neuropathy and Arterial Disease in Lower Extremity Energy -- Veves, Aristidis (MA)
  10. 1R01HL092499-01A1 -- JNK Exacerbates Ischemia/Reperfusion Injury in Hyperglycemic Subjects -- Webster, Keith (FL)
  11. 1R01AG028076-01A2 -- Cerebromicrovascular Disease in Elderly with Diabetes -- Novak, Vera (MA)
  12. 2R01DA014684-06A2 -- Molecular Mechanisms of Stimulant Abuse -- Galli, Aurelio Antonio (TN)
  13. 1R21DK084504-01 -- Imaging Nuclear Receptor LRH-1 in Functional Transcriptional Assemblies -- Fletterick, Robert (CA)
  14. 1R03HD061570-01 -- Cloning and Characterization of Zebrafish Endocrine Pancreas Mutants -- Song, Jianbo (CA)


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