Skip to main content

Creating a World Without Diabetes

Contact Us

For more information about University of Utah Health's diabetes research, please contact:

Bridget Hughes
Phone: 801-585-9304

Sara Salmon
Phone: 801-839-5414

Imagine a time when diabetes shifts from being today’s crisis to becoming yesterday’s memory.

Driving Out Diabetes, a Larry H. Miller Family Wellness Initiative, is bringing this vision closer to reality by investing in innovative research at the University of Utah. The goal is to discover and catalyze scientific breakthroughs that will lead to better prevention, treatments, and eventually cures for people with diabetes in Utah and beyond.

Research focuses on the following three key areas:

  1. Drug Discovery
  2. Uncovering Causes
  3. Diabetes Management and Prevention

Drug Discovery

Millions with diabetes rely on insulin injections to control blood sugar. But knowing how much and when to inject is an inexact science at best, putting diabetics at risk for serious complications.

Investigators at University of Utah Health are developing new drugs to help with these challenges. For example, taking lessons learned from the venom of marine cone snails, investigators have developed a new insulin that is much faster acting, and could help someone with diabetes to more quickly control their blood sugar.

Another example is a possible drug that would eliminate the need for insulin shots all together. Researchers at the U have seen in mice that injecting them with a human antibody can suppress hormones involved in blood sugar regulation, and it led to the production of way more insulin cells. This is a promising drug to restore a person’s ability to make their own insulin and improve their health.

Dr. Pezzolessi in diabetes research lab

Uncovering Causes

Not only does diabetes cluster in families, but so does diabetic kidney disease, a complication that occurs in one of four diabetic adults.

Researchers at University of Utah Health have  the Utah Population Database at their fingertips. The Utah Population Database is a unique tool that lets scientists look at both family history as well we health characteristics of the patients included.

Researchers at the U are drawing on this powerful resource to search for disease genes that make people prone to developing these conditions. Understanding the genetics behind disease will allow scientists to develop new strategies for screening, prevention, and treatment.

Diabetes Management & Prevention

Andrea and her research team

Knowing that lifestyle changes can slow and even stop diabetes, U of U Health researchers are focusing on getting the right disease management information to the right people when they need it.

They are creating technology aids to help patients receive the right treatment plans. By providing recommendations on what has worked well for other, similar patients, providers can take better care of their patients with diabetes.

Investigators are also determining how to tailor diabetes prevention programs to meet the needs of ethnically diverse and low-income individuals who are at risk for diabetes to ensure a broader segment of our community has access to life-changing information.

Training Next Gen Innovators

Training early career scientists in the use of cutting-edge techniques to tackle issues in diabetes will ensure that our children and grandchildren continue to reap the benefits of scientific discovery and innovation.

With support from the initiative, established mentors are guiding rising stars in projects to understand how a genetic mutation prevalent among Utahns contributes to diabetes and to identify and mitigate unique complications that arise when diabetes patients have cancer.

Funding & Seed Grants

Each year our program, in collaboration with the Diabetes and Metabolism Research Center, awards seed grants to promising researchers.