Center of Emphasis in Diabetes and Metabolism

Center of Emphasis in Diabetes and Metabolism

The high rates of diabetes and obesity in the Paso del Norte region present both challenges and opportunities. Scientists in the Center of Emphasis in Diabetes and Metabolism (CoEDM) are committed to making new discoveries that will improve metabolic health in the U.S.-Mexico border region and beyond. The CoEDM is building an interdisciplinary team of scientists that span the fields of biomedical, translational, clinical and population health research.

The health disparities along the U.S.-Mexico border are severely impacting health and quality of life in our community. The prevalence of diabetes in El Paso County exceeds rates in both Texas and the U.S. as a whole. And diabetes-related deaths in El Paso are nearly 50 percent higher. One area of focus for CoEDM researchers is quantifying the regional, societal and geographic factors that are driving the high rate of diabetes and associated conditions, such as obesity, metabolic syndrome and fatty liver disease.

Since Type 2 diabetes develops and progresses slowly, it is imperative to identify at-risk individuals early in order to preserve pancreatic insulin secretion and prevent overt disease. Current blood tests, such as fasting glucose and hemoglobin A1c, do not detect the earliest stages. The CoEDM is continuously working to discover and validate new biomarkers for the early detection of diabetes risk and develop interventions that decrease risk and improve metabolic health.

The CoEDM is also conducting research on the pancreatic islets and beta cells that secrete insulin. Through a detailed understanding of islet cell biology, it may be possible to regenerate beta cell function, reverse the progression of diabetes and/or improve diabetic control.

Recent advances in the treatment of individuals with existing diabetes are helping to improve quality of life in some subpopulations of the U.S. However, the acute and chronic complications of diabetes continue to be a severe public health problem in the Paso del Norte region. Research by CoEDM scientists is providing new insights into diabetic nerve and kidney damage and evaluating new therapies to prevent and treat such debilitating conditions.