Helping the Next Generation: Junior Faculty Awards

One of the most challenging aspects of an academic researcher’s career is establishing their lab and research program after finishing their scientific training. The ADA Junior Faculty Development award is a specific grant mechanism for helping promising young scientists launch their careers in diabetes research. Helping young, talented investigators establish labs focused on diabetes-related topics helps ensure a pipeline of scientists dedicated to unraveling the mysteries of diabetes. 

Meet our 2019 Junior Faculty Development awardees

“How insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells normally respond to the metabolic stress of pregnancy, and how these processes are defective in GDM is poorly understood. This project aims to expand our understanding of the specific genes and pathways within beta cells normally responsible for adaptation to pregnancy.”

Ronadip R. Banerjee, MD, PhD

University of Alabama at Birmingham

Project: Mechanisms of pancreatic beta cell adaptation during pregnancy

“The particular focus of this grant is insulin resistance, which affects up to one-third of the population but has few effective therapies. This grant will help advance our understanding of insulin resistance, paving the way for the development of new drugs to treat insulin resistance and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.”

Joshua W. Knowles, MD, PhD

The Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University

Project: Mechanisms of insulin resistance caused by human NAT2 deficiency

“The proposed research focuses on a unique physiological model of dramatic fat tissue remodeling, which will bring novel targets for the manipulation of fat mass. Moreover, we expect this work will lead to new insights into preventing and treating obesity-related gestational diabetes and the subsequent type 2 diabetes.”

Qiong Wang, PhD

Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope

Project: Adipose Tissue Plasticity in Obesity and Diabetes

“The goal of my research is to understand what goes wrong in the fat cells of obese individuals leading to the development of type 2 diabetes mellitus. I hope to identify therapeutics targets that will promote metabolic health by encouraging the fat cell to release or burn excess stored fat.”

Shannon M. Reilly, PhD

University of California, San Diego

Project: An IL-6/STAT3 autocrine axis in adipose tissue

“My work shows that signals from bacteria that normally reside in the intestine, which scientists refer to as the “gut microbiota,” play an important role in maintaining health metabolism. This project aims to understand how the microbiota impacts health, in particular how it influences intestinal health and how it can promote development of diabetes.”

Jun Zou, PhD

Georgia State University Research Foundation

Project: Protection against dysglycemia via fiber-mediated nourishment of gut microbiota

“Women with a recent GDM pregnancy may be aware that they carry a risk of type 2 diabetes and should undergo postpartum screening; findings from my project may help identify effective strategies to prevent this progression.”

Deirdre Kay Tobias, DSc

Brigham and Women's Hospital

Project: Effect of a postpartum lifestyle intervention on metabolomic profiles in relation to glucose homeostasis among women with recent gestational diabetes mellitus

“As a basic research scientist my goal is to discover what goes awry at the cellular and physiological levels during disease. In turn, I hope that these discoveries get translated into preventive practices, precise diagnoses, and effective therapeutic interventions. This project will investigate novel aspects of the molecular mechanism underlying glucose handling by fat and muscle tissues.” Damaris N. Lorenzo, PhD

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Project: Molecular mechanisms of ankyrins in the regulation of glucose homeostasis – metabolic consequences of type 2 diabetes ankyrin risk variants

“This study aims to develop a new therapeutic approach to cure diabetes/diabetes complications. This project is to test if diabetes and its vascular complications would be stopped or reversed by applying a brake on inflammation.”

Jixin Zhong, PhD

Case Western Reserve University

Project: Regulation of Diabetic Atherosclerosis by DPP4

“This project will lead to a better understanding of the relationship between blood sugar control, genes, and complication development in type 1 diabetes. My hope is that this work will help to identify new targets for therapies to prevent complications from occurring in the first place.”

Rachel G. Miller, PhD

University of Pittsburgh

Project: Epigenetics of glycemic control and complication development in type 1 diabetes

“The work proposed here will lead to novel insights into fat cell physiology and pave the way for potential anti-obesity and anti-diabetes strategies.”

Yingfeng Deng, PhD University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas

Project: The regulation of plasma uridine homeostasis by adipocytes and ER stress

“Diabetic kidney disease is a complex disorder with multiple causative pathways. Findings from our study could identify a novel pathway which can ultimately be used to treat high blood pressure and kidney disease in diabetic patients.”

Nirupama Ramkumar, MD

University of Utah

Project: Role of collecting duct prorenin and prorenin receptor in diabetic kidney disease

“Recent research has shown our health is influenced by conditions in our homes, neighborhoods, workplaces, schools, and communities, known as social determinants of health. By developing and testing interventions that are specific to the social determinants that influence food insecure African Americans, who experience higher rates of diabetes than other groups, we can improve the health of the overall population.”

Rebekah J. Walker, PhD

Medical College of Wisconsin

Project: Lowering the impact of food insecurity in African Americans with type 2 diabetes