U.S. Institute Director for Diabetes and Kidney Diseases to speak at JABSOM

Free lecture, visit to O'ahu and Maui on director's agenda

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Tina M. Shelton, (808) 692-0897
Director of Communications, Office of Dean of Medicine
Posted: Jan 9, 2012

Dr. Griffin Rodgers
Dr. Griffin Rodgers
STEP-UP participants
STEP-UP participants

More than many places in the United States, people in Hawaiʻi have a personal stake in the nation’s fight against diabetes, digestive and kidney disease-- leading killers of island residents. On January 12, there will be an opportunity to hear first-hand what the country is doing to advance research and treatment on those diseases.
Dr. Griffin Rodgers, Director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), will speak at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM). Dr. Rodgers lecture, “Research at NIDDK”, is open to the public on January 12 at 1:00 p.m. in the medical school’s auditorium at 651 Ilalo Street.
The NIDDK, part of the National Institutes of Health, has invested more than $1.5 million in JABSOM-affiliated projects just this year, including a program called “STEP-UP” which is aimed at recruiting high school students into careers in biomedical research. It’s a national program, which began in 1997, and is led by the NIDDK’s Director of Minority Health Research Coordination, Dr. Lawrence Agodoa, who will be joining Dr. Rodgers on his visit to the Aloha State.
In Hawaiʻi, STEP-UP allows ten high school juniors and seniors to spend two months at the medical school conducting research and being mentored by UH scientists. Their expenses are paid, including a trip to Washington, D.C. at the end of the summer to present their research findings.
"STEP-UP, which stands for Short Term Education Program for Underrepresented Persons, is an investment in the future," explained George Hui, its Hawaiʻi/Pacific Program Director and a faculty researcher with JABSOM’s Department of Tropical Medicine, Medical Microbiology and Pharmacology.
“We are trying to ignite a spark in the lives of young people who are uniquely qualified to serve populations which suffer disproportionately from disease,” said Hui, “because these young people are from those very communities.”
Last summer’s STEP-UP participants at JABSOM included three public school students of Native Hawaiian ancestry from Hana, Maui and Molokaʻi, along with seven other teenagers selected from American Samoa, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
Hui has seen first-hand how the STEP-UP investment pays off. Several of the participants in the last decade have gone on to college and graduate school, including the school of medicine.
Dr. Rodgers will also see first-hand one of the island communities which has produced a young scientist-to-be, when he visits rural Hana, Maui, to visit with staff at Hana Elementary and High School.
About kidney disease, diabetes and metabolic syndrome in Hawaiʻi:
• The National Kidney Foundation of Hawaiʻi says more than 2,000 Hawaiʻi residents suffer from kidney failure.
• Roughly 8 percent, or 110,000 people in Hawaii have diabetes, according to the Hawaiʻi State Department of Health’s Hawaiʻi Diabetes Plan 2010.
• In research published in 2005 by University of Hawaiʻi scientists, a projected 33.4% of Hawaiʻi’s population has metabolic syndrome, which is significantly higher than the overall U.S. estimate of 21.8% of population with the disorder. Metabolic syndrome is a combination of disorders, such as high blood pressure and obesity, which together increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.