Health Sciences Campus

Metabolic Institute receives $1 million

GREENVILLE, N.C.  (June 21, 2007)  —  Research into the causes and potential cures for diabetes received a boost in the form of a $1 million grant to the Metabolic Institute at East Carolina University.

The grant was among several the Golden LEAF Foundation announced this month.

"As you can imagine, we are delighted by the grant," said Dr. Walter Pories, a professor of surgery and biochemistry at the Brody School of Medicine at ECU and leader of the institute.

Established in 2004, the Metabolic Institute includes physicians and scientists who are pioneers in gastric-bypass surgery to reduce obesity. The group was the first to report that exclusion of part of the intestine produces full remission of type 2 diabetes. This reversal lasts as long as 20 years and includes a sharp reduction in complications and mortality, Pories said.

This discovery is the stimulus for research worldwide to identify how the intestine causes type 2 diabetes and how to stop the responsible molecules, Pories said.

Altogether, researchers studying obesity, diabetes and related conditions are funded by approximately $12.4 million in grants, Pories said. That includes a contract of $491,000 last year from Johnson & Johnson to look for a medicine that could mimic the effect of gastric-bypass surgery in alleviating diabetes.

"The great thing about the Golden LEAF grant is that it will provide additional technologies and upgrading of space to allow us to continue our work at the level required for international competition," Pories said. "The return will be more jobs, more grant dollars (and) better care with a high potential for patents and spin-off companies."

The grant follows recognition Pories received at a March "diabetes summit" in Rome after his findings about diabetes and gastric-bypass surgery were backed up by studies in animals and humans in Mexico, Brazil and India.

Pories' work was also recognized with the lifetime achievement award from the American Society for Bariatric Surgery at that group's annual meeting June 11-16 in San Diego.

Contact: Doug Boyd | 252-744-2481