Mission and History

Chicago Center for Diabetes Translation Research Mission Statement

Our mission is to improve the lives of people with diabetes and people at risk for diabetes through innovative, high-impact research. We seek to prevent diabetes, improve the quality and value of diabetes care, and empower patients and communities. We:

  • Collaborate with researchers, policymakers, healthcare providers and community partners
  • Share findings to improve practices and policies
  • Improve the health of vulnerable populations and reduce racial, ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in health and health care

Sky above the city

History of Diabetes Translation Research at the University of Chicago

The University of Chicago has performed diabetes translation research for over 35 years. Our initial work reflected the early NIH emphasis on education and patient behavioral change. The most important contribution of that era was Dr. Wylie McNabb’s PATHWAYS Program for weight loss in inner-city African-American women. PATHWAYS developed many of the educational and behavioral change techniques that were later incorporated into the Diabetes Prevention Program.

Approximately 20 years ago the University of Chicago began a major effort to build health services research and outcomes research strength across the University. This effort included recruitment of approximately 15 faculty in the Department of Medicine, the creation of a Department of Health Studies which comprises biostatistics, epidemiology, and health services research, and the development of multiple cross-university working groups, workshops, and training programs in health services research and translational research. Many of the current members of the Center are original health services and outcomes research faculty recruits and now have distinguished careers. The practical result of this history is the melding of the Center’s original strengths in patient education and behavioral change with the University’s longstanding disciplinary strengths in economics, sociology and other social science specialties.  The University of Chicago’s long history of interdisciplinary health services research and our experienced faculty and staff have put us on the cutting-edge of multi-dimensional and multi-level translational research.

The Center has developed important partnerships with two networks of health centers, MidWest Clinicians’ Network and Access Community Health Network, and the Chicago Department of Public Health. Key research contributions over the past decade include improving diabetes care in community health centers, improving care of older persons with diabetes, diabetes cost-effectiveness analysis, childhood diabetes prevention, and reducing diabetes racial and ethnic disparities.

The past 5-10 years has seen the development of additional projects to improve diabetes care in Chicago’s African-American and Latino communities by combining community and health care assets, as well as increasing attention to implementation science issues critical to effective translational research spurred by our role leading the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Finding Answers: Disparities Research for Change National Program Office.