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Diabetes

An estimated 25.8 million people in the United States and more than 347 million people worldwide have diabetes, and those numbers are expected to increase by two-thirds by 2030. Diabetes is a leading cause of cardiovascular disease, blindness, kidney failure, neuropathy, amputations, and many other serious health complications.

World-renowned scientists at the University of Minnesota are leading the way in developing a cure for type 1 diabetes, which is caused by the immune system’s destruction of insulin-producing cells, known as islets, in the pancreas.

University researchers established a standardized treatment for human islet-cell transplantation, and half of patients who have undergone the transplant in clinical trials are insulin-independent after five years. This treatment is now in the final stages of review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to become a routine medical procedure for treating type 1 diabetes in certain patients.

Additionally, our scientists are:

  • seeking ways to prevent islets from being killed by the body and to protect replaced or regenerated islets and organs in patients with type 1 diabetes
  • using pig islets and creating insulin-producing islet cells from adult stem cells to establish an unlimited source of islet cells for transplantation
  • participating in TrialNet, a global network of researchers working on diabetes prevention and early treatment
  • developing more effective ways to prevent, better manage, and reverse type 2 diabetes—caused by the body’s inability to make enough insulin or use it effectively.
  • providing surgical solutions, developing new drugs to increase insulin action, examining ways to replace or repair lost or damaged islet cells, and implementing prevention strategies in to reduce obesity and other lifestyle factors that lead to type 2 diabetes

Through this multipronged approach, the University of Minnesota is leading the charge in developing a worldwide cure for diabetes.


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The Minnesota Medical Foundation has merged with the University of Minnesota Foundation.

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For more information, contact the University of Minnesota Foundation at 612-624-3333.

Find out more

If you would like to speak with someone in person about supporting diabetes research, contact:

Jean Gorell, Director of Development, Medicine & Health, Surgery, Special Initiatives
612-625-0497 | jgorell@umn.edu

Angela Lillie, Development Assistant
612-625-9646 | alillie@umn.edu