Grant success for Dept of Physiology on World Diabetes Day

Leading researchers in the School of Biomedical Sciences receive funding thanks to Diabetes Victoria.

Diabetes was responsible for four million deaths in 2017. Type 2 diabetes accounts for 85% of all diabetes and is increasing. However, many cases of type 2 diabetes can be prevented by adopting a healthy lifestyle.

The theme for World Diabetes Day this year is Family and Diabetes, raising awareness on the impact of diabetes on family and the support network of those affected - and to promote the role of family in the management, care, prevention and education of the condition.

“Having a parent with diabetes increases the risk of diabetes by approximately 3-fold, with up to a 6-fold risk when both parents are affected. Type 2 Diabetes (T2D) clusters in families and it is well established that the risk of developing T2D depends on both genetic and environmental factors,” says Professor Matt Watt, Head of the Department of Physiology.

Professor Watt, together with researchers in the Department, are aiming to influence future research and treatment of the disease through their current projects and have been successful in securing Diabetes Australia Research Program (DARP) grant funding.

The grants are focused around new ideas in understanding diabetes and/or future treatments – and to have received three of these grants amidst numerous competitive national applications is certainly cause for celebration at the University.

The winners were announced by Diabetes Victoria* at an awards presentation night on World Diabetes Day, 14 November.

Prof Matthew Watt

Prof Matt Watt, Head of Department of Physiology and the Metabolism and Diabetes laboratory together with co-investigator Dr Stacey Keenan, have received a DARP grant to look at how to prevent fatty liver disease and how it contributes to type 2 diabetes.

Dr Paula Miotto

Dr Miotto was awarded a DARP grant for her research which will look at how vesicles secreted by the liver cause insulin sensitivity and diabetes. Dr Miotto has been working in Professor Watt’s lab since September 2018. Read more here.

Dr Garron Dodd

Dr Dodd's project, Intranasally Targeting Hypothalamic Insulin Signalling: A New Way to Treat Type 2 Diabetes, will address the brain and insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes.

"There are currently no therapeutics available to target brain insulin resistance" says Dr Dodd, Head of the Metabolic Neuroscience laboratory in the Department. His research identifies a novel therapeutic strategy which intranasally targets neurons in the hippocampus.

"A person with type 2 diabetes has most likely inherited a predisposition to the disease, and lifestyle and environment factors are likely to contribute to the progression of disease. Many of these lifestyle factors are related to changes that often accompany obesity," Professor Watt says.

One in two people with diabetes do not know they have it. For more information on diabetes or to know your risk of developing type 2 diabetes please visit World Diabetes Day.

*A total of 21 Victorian-based researchers were presented with their 2020 Diabetes Australia Research Program grants at a World Diabetes Day function organised by Diabetes Victoria at the State Library on World Diabetes Day. Diabetes Victoria has contributed just under $1.4 million to the total 2020 DARP grant funding pool of $4 million. [Information provided by Diabetes Victoria].