Study will inform physicians and policymakers on how to prevent and treat diabetes in different Asian ethnic groups
The Palo Alto Medical Foundation’s (PAMF) Research Institute announced that it has received a $2.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to conduct a five-year study on diabetes and its risk factors among the six largest Asian ethnic groups in California – Asian Indians, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese.
“By the end of the study, we hope to gain a much better understanding of what puts certain Asian ethnic minorities at greater risk for diabetes, one of the most costly and prevalent chronic health conditions,” said Dr. Latha Palaniappan, M.D., M.S., principal investigator for the study. “The study also holds substantial promise for clinicians and policymakers as we will offer information and recommendations on how to identify and target high-risk Asian populations for diabetes prevention, treatment and management.”
Diabetes, a chronic disease characterized by high blood sugar levels, occurs at significantly higher rates among blacks and Hispanics than among whites – a documented health disparity. Asians, although they consist of more than 30 ethnic groups from more than 20 countries of origin, have always been grouped together in previous diabetes studies and reports. Therefore, the prevalence of diabetes and related risk factors, such as obesity, remains largely unknown in specific Asian ethnic groups.
“In some of our preliminary studies, we’ve seen that certain Asian ethnic groups, such as Asian Indians and Filipinos, are at much higher risk for diabetes than others,” said Dr. Palaniappan. “These findings reinforce the need to study Asian subgroups separately instead of grouping these diverse populations together. We’re also hoping the study will have an international impact because we’re studying racial/ethnic differences in how our bodies metabolize insulin and glucose in a similar environment.”
The Pan Asian Cohort Study (PACS), as the study will be called, will examine existing clinical records of more than 60,000 Asians in California for diabetes risk, the largest Asian-American cohort ever assembled for a study. The study will include examination of the medical records, minus any personal identifiers, of PAMF patients.