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WDI honored with pair of $65,000 grants

by Rodney Tanaka

January 11, 2012

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Western University of Health Sciences’ Western Diabetes Institute (WDI) recently received two $65,000 grants — one aimed at treating Type 2 diabetic patients and looking at the benefits of short-term intensive insulin therapy on long-term glucose control and pancreatic function; and one to demonstrate the effectiveness of a multi-level diabetes education team that incorporates community health workers to help people with diabetes more effectively self-manage their disease.

INSPIRE Diabetes Trial grant comes from Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine, allowing WDI to look at innovative ways to treat new onset Type 2 diabetic patients.

Dr. Rucha Mehta, Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, said patients with Type 2 diabetes will be randomized to receive either insulin therapy or oral medications, and will be followed for one year. The benefits to the patient include free diabetes medications, education, treatment, follow-ups, testing supplies, lab work, investigations, and physical exams for the duration of the study, as well as some monetary compensation.

She anticipates the grant will cover between 30 and 50 patients, and should begin soon.

“”The idea is to be able to develop excellent care for diabetics,”” said Cesar Ochoa, WDI clinical research coordinator, who will manage the INSPIRE Diabetes Trial. “”It’s very important in California, and in particular Pomona, where a large number are affected by the disease, particularly in the Spanish community.””

A second grant comes from the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE), enabling WDI to offer a series of diabetes classes in English and Spanish, and to study the impact of integrating the same in a patient-centered medical home setting.

Registered Dietitian Melanie Barbee, who was recently hired to coordinate the diabetes education program, said the classes will help educate diabetics and their families about AADE’s seven self-care behaviors for diabetics — healthy eating, being active, monitoring, taking medication, problem-solving, reducing risks, and healthy coping.

“”Patients with diabetes are the best ones who can manage their diabetes,”” Mehta said. “”An educated patient is going to take care of his or her diabetes much better, and diabetes education is key to the patient understanding what he or she needs to do to achieve goals and prevent complications.””

She said food, exercise and medication are the key elements in managing diabetes.

The grants also open doors for collaborative clinical work between different departments and colleges at WesternU, including Drs. Olivia Phung and Emmanuelle Schwartzman from the College of Pharmacy and Drs.Yolanda Meza and Rudy Mireles from Pharmacy. It will also open the door for future grants, recognition and educational opportunities for staff and students.

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