Conducting cutting-edge research to improve the care of people with diabetes is central to the mission of the Yale Children’s Diabetes Program. We rely on our patients as partners to join us on this mission. Without volunteers, even the most important studies will never be completed. Remember that all of our research studies are conducted with the utmost regard for safety, and as such are monitored and regulated by the Human Subjects Research Program at Yale, the Office for Human Research Protection at the US Department of Health and Human Services, the US Food and Drug Administration, and our research sponsors, such as the National Institutes of Health and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Our research participants often tell us that volunteering in studies has been helpful for their own diabetes care, as they often get to work very closely with the doctors, nurses, and other staff of the research team on an individual level.
Some major areas of research in our program are:
- The Artificial Pancreas – We are evaluating the safety and effectiveness of devices that automatically link insulin pumps and glucose sensors and automatically regulate the blood glucose levels into a near-normal range. We were the first group to study these so-called “closed-loop” systems in children and are working closely with the NIH, JDRF, FDA, device manufacturers and other researchers to make this dream a reality.
- Insulin Absorption – One of the key differences between people with diabetes versus those without diabetes is how the insulin is delivered into the body. When insulin is injected under the skin, whether by pump, syringe, or pen, it just takes longer to get to where it needs to in the body compared to how the normal pancreas works. We are working on several exciting strategies to speed up the action of insulin in the body. This has the potential to significantly improve the effectiveness of the artificial pancreas, and also the usual day-to-day management of diabetes people are doing now.
- The Honeymoon Period – We know that some people with diabetes continue to make insulin years after the diagnosis of diabetes. We also know that people who continue to make insulin tend to do better with their diabetes: lower A1c levels, less hypoglycemia, fewer complications. We are working with other researchers on understanding how the functions of the pancreas change over the first years of diabetes, and on strategies to prolong the survival and function of those remaining beta cells.
- Adjustment and Coping – We know that managing diabetes can be very stressful for the whole family: the child with diabetes, his/her siblings, and parents and other caregivers. It is important for you and for us to develop better tools to help monitor the levels of stress and coping in our families, and to provide strategies to improve and maintain a healthy quality of life.
- Diabetes Standards of Care – We are partnering with many other diabetes centers across the country to pool our information about our practices: how well our patients are doing with diabetes; how often problems with hypoglycemia, ketoacidosis, or other problems develop; the use of technologies such as pumps and sensors; and how economic, social, and other factors affect diabetes care. This incredibly valuable information may help enable us to influence or direct healthcare policies to improve reimbursements and treatments for diabetes.