University awarded $600,000 to research diabetes, bone fractures

Mar 16, 2017

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Assistant Professor of Bioengineering Lamya Karim a $616,170 grant to study how type 2 diabetes weakens bones and results in patients being at much greater risk for fractures.

The grant is the largest-ever single NIH grant and the first NIH Mentored Research Scientist Career Development Award to a UMass Dartmouth principal investigator, university officials said.

“Skeletal fragility in patients with type 2 diabetes is a rapidly growing public health risk,” Karim said via press release.

Karim explained that the causes of diabetic skeletal fragility are largely unknown, which makes it difficult for clinicians to make decisions regarding fracture prevention and medical care in this population. The goal of the research is to determine underlying causes of this condition, Karim said.

"The results will provide a better understanding of how the bones become weak, and may aid in the development of assessing risk and treating diabetic patients susceptible to fractures,” Karim said.

Type 2 diabetics are about three times as likely to break a bone than non-diabetics, and this includes fractures with high mortality rates such as hip fractures, officials said.

Type 2 diabetes results in up to $245 billion in health care costs annually in the United States, and diabetes rates in the U.S. are predicted to increase up to 5 times by the year 2050, officials said.

In Massachusetts, about 18 percent of adults over 65 have type 2 diabetes, and about 50 percent are pre-diabetic. Bristol County has one of the highest rates of diabetes in the state, officials said.

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