Barnstable Brown Diabetes and Obesity Research Day Combines Research, Opera

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The Barnstable Brown Kentucky Diabetes and Obesity Center hosted its fourth annual Diabetes Day on Tuesday, May 20. With a focus on current findings in obesity and diabetes research, the day's program featured presentations by nationally prominent physician-scientists as well as regional researchers chosen from abstract submissions. A reception and awards banquet was held in the evening, including performances from established and upcoming stars of UK's opera theatre program.

The event, co-sponsored by the Center of Research in Obesity and Cardiovascular Disease and the Nutrition and Oxidative Stress Training program, included three invited speakers. Dr. Dale Able, director of the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism at the University of Iowa College of Medicine, presented his research on the relationship between insulin, diabetes and heart failure. Dr. Jennifer Pollock, co-director of cardio-renal physiology and medicine and associate director of the Center for Free Radical Biology at University of Alabama-Birmingham, discussed novel therapeutic strategies for diabetic nephropathy. Dr. Ananda Basu, professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, presented the "bench to bedside" process of developing an artificial pancreas for Type 1 diabetes patients.

A number of UK researchers also delivered podium presentations, and more than 70 posters competed for judged awards. Recipients of poster awards were:

Marcielle de Beer (Physiology), Ailing Ji (CVRC), Yepeng Sui (Pharmacology and Nutritional Sciences), Carie Boychuk (Physiology), Prabhakara Nagareddy (CVRC), Robin Shoemaker (Pharmacology and Nutritional Sciences), Yu Wang (Pharmacology and Nutritional Sciences), Kate Townsend Creasy (Microbiology and Immunology), and Robert (Nate) Helsley (Pharmacology and Nutritional Sciences).

"This was a great day where diabetes and obesity researchers came together to exchange ideas, to view each other’s ongoing work, and to become recharged in the search for new treatments for these major metabolic diseases," said Dr. Philip Kern, director of the Barnstable Brown Diabetes and Obesity Center. "The program is especially helpful to junior investigators who get to present their work to a friendly audience, and everyone was edified by our guest faculty, who contributed eagerly of their time during the day."

Following the day's academic proceedings, a reception and awards banquet at the Hilary J. Boone Center recognized the outstanding science of the day and also served as an opportunity to thank the members of Barnstable Brown family, who gave the founding donation to establish the center and reamin avid fundraisers to support its work.

The evening's entertainment was provided by Everett McCorvey, director of UK's opera theatre, who has performed at the event every year. McCorvey became involved in the event because he has Type 2 diabetes and wants to support efforts to find a cure.

"I’m always honored to perform and also to join in the celebration of what the Barnstable Brown family means to the University and also what the center that they helped to create means to the citizens of Kentucky," said McCorvey.

He particularly appreciates the collaborative spirit of the arts and health care fields working together to solve serious problems.

"Professors in all disciplines are seeking and finding ways to work collaboratively across campus in order to solve the complex challenges facing not only Kentucky’s citizens but the world’s citizens," he said. "In solving the problems of the world, there is a place for the arts."

In this year's performance, McCorvey was joined by singers from the cast of “It’s A Grand Night For Singing," Endowed Chair of Voice and Metropolitan Opera Soprano Cynthia Lawrence, UK Artist in Residence and Metropolitan Opera Tenor Gregory Turay, and UK vocal coach Dr. Tedrin Blair Lindsay. Some of UK's youngest opera stars also performed, including incoming freshman Clark Davis, undergraduate student Mary Catherine Wright, and doctoral student Ryan Traub. The artists performed favorite opera selections from UK's past opera season and introduced selections from the upcoming season, which will include Sweeney Todd, The Tales of Hoffman, Amahl and The Night Visitors, and It’s A Grand Night For Singing!

At the reception, the Second Annual Fred and Marcielle de Beer Award in Diabetes was presented to Dr. Lisa Cassis, professor and chair of the UK Department of Molecular and Biomedical Pharmacology and interim vice president for research. Cassis is currently principal investigator on several multi-million dollar federal grants, including serving as program director of an $11.3 million National Institutes of Health grant that supports the Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) focusing on obesity and cardiovascular diseases.

"Diabetes Day brought in great scholars and research, and provided a wonderful night of entertainment to thank the family for their continued support," said Kern.

MEDIA CONTACT: Mallory Powell, mallory.powell@uy.edu

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