Local research institute teams up with UCSB to find out
The Sansum Diabetes Research Institute and UCSB’s Bren School of Environmental Science & Management have teamed up to investigate the relationship between environmental pollution and diabetes and how the relationship may affect different parts of society.
The institute reached out to UCSB for environmental data to propel Mil Familias, SDRI’s decade-long program to analyze how diabetes may be discriminatory.
“Just about 20 percent of our health is biological,” said Mil Familias Project Manager Namino Glantz, Ph.D. “The rest is social, behavioral and environmental factors.”
A thousand Latino families in the area have been recruited to participate in the study that started January. Mil Familia studies the subject’s genetics, psychology, biology, behavior as well as the environment by monitoring air quality and pesticide use in the area.
“Climate change will have a negative effect on diabetes because worse quality of air leads to asthma, Type 2 diabetes and cancer,” said David Kerr, director of research and innovation at SDRI.
The Bren School will help SDRI sift through the data concerning the environment.
“We’re capitalizing on their skill in data management and our expertise in research and medicine,” said Dr. Glantz.
Some questions that are guiding the research include:
• Is there an increased risk of diabetes the closer one lives to a freeway?
• Is there an increased risk of diabetes if one is an agricultural worker working with pesticides?
• Is the risk of diabetes in unborn children increased because of proximity to a freeway or a farm?
Currently, SDRI has one office in Santa Barbara, but the organization, according to Dr. Kerr, hopes to open satellite locations in Ventura, Goleta, and across California and the U.S. SDRI plans to raise $3 million to $5 million for Mil Familias.
SDRI’s long-term goal is the prevention of Type 2 diabetes, in which the body doesn’t properly use insulin, a hormone that helps glucose get into cells to give them energy. When insulin isn’t used properly, blood sugar levels become too high, which can cause strokes, kidney problems and nerve damage.