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Dr. Tim Lyons Research lab photo

Research

One of the highest priorities within the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolic Diseases is to foster communication and collaboration between the clinical and basic science components. There is a strong emphasis on promoting an integrated research effort bringing the two together, and on establishing collaborations with other investigators on campus and in the community. The establishment of a weekly ‘translational meeting’ serves as a union of these components enhancing our educational mission and providing a forum for the generation of new ideas and projects, all in an effort towards improving the lives of our patients.

Seven laboratories in the Strom Thurmond Biomedical Research Center and two labs on the ninth floor of the Clinical Sciences Building, house the Division's research programs. Division members are actively engaged in clinical and basic research with emphasis on diabetic micro- and macrovascular disease, lipid and intermediary metabolism, obesity, signal transduction and national collaborative clinical trials. A wide variety of hormone immunoassays, molecular biology, genetic and biochemical procedures are performed in these laboratories.

Diabetes Research at MUSC

The research we do at MUSC is trans-generational, studying patients throughout their lives, requiring continuous commitment over decades from both investigators and funding bodies. 

Work by our predecessors at MUSC, and by current members of the MUSC diabetes research team, has led to the establishment of unique biological sample sets from some of the world's most important clinical diabetes studies:

Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT) and its follow up study, Epidemiology of Diabetes and Complications (EDIC) has followed 1,441 people with Type 1 diabetes since the mid-1980s. Over 95 percent of the 1,200 surviving participants remain under follow-up. The information gained is widely considered to have revolutionized diabetes care, driving an on-going (and very challenging) effort to normalize blood glucose levels to prevent complications. Indeed, for people with diabetes, the findings of the DCCT are considered the most important development since the discovery of insulin in 1921. Importantly, MUSC-based investigators collaborated closely with the DCCT since its outset, bringing new ideas and gaining their own major program funding for laboratory-based work.

This work has been enabled by over $15M in federal funding to MUSC, with many projects on-going and new ones planned. The samples we hold are entirely unique, enabling research to understand the reasons people with diabetes develop blindness, kidney failure, amputations, heart attacks, strokes and premature death - and to discover new cures. The work can only be performed at MUSC: no similar resource exists elsewhere. The samples become more valuable with the passage of time, as new clinical information accrues, so their preservation will enable new studies to be initiated at MUSC far into the future.

The Veterans Administration Diabetes Trial (VADT) was a randomized clinical trial of intensive glycemic control in patients with long-standing and relatively advanced diabetes. The study involved 1,791 individuals from 20 VA sites around the country including MUSC. The primary goal of the VADT was to compare the effects of intensive and standard glucose control on cardiovascular events in patients with Type 2 diabetes.