Oklahoma Lottery Winners Help Fund Mobile Diabetes Research Unit with Jackpot

Article excerpt

It's no longer a mystery that diet and exercise are important tools in turning back the advance of diabetes.

But for every treatment plan, there is a mountain of research into discovering how, why and when the disease occurs.

That effort at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center has been enhanced, thanks to a donation from a lottery winner wanting to help Oklahoma children. Don and Joyce Harvey, who won the $105 million jackpot two years ago, are helping to pay for a mobile metabolic research unit, which will travel to rural areas of Oklahoma collecting samples for research into pediatric diabetes.

Dr. Steven Chernausek, director of the Children's Medical Research Institute Diabetes and Metabolic Research Program, said he's long had a goal of taking his research on the road. Research tends to focus on the inner-city population, he said, but because much of Oklahoma is rural, there's an untapped segment that is crucial to the discovery process.

"The mobile unit will be an RV-style machine that can travel to rural areas and measure body composition, collect blood samples, measure metabolic rate - everything we do here but in a more constrained fashion," Chernausek said. "Rural Oklahoma is an understudied area. If we only studied people in Oklahoma City, we would be missing something."

The planning and design phase of the project continues, Chernausek said, and within a year, he hopes to have the unit rolling down the highway. Cost for the unit, including equipment, maintenance and personnel, will range from $800,000 to $1 million for its five-year pilot plan. The Harveys are donating $30,000 initially and plan to continue funding the project throughout its work.

For all forms of diabetes, its prevalence is 1 in every 300 people, Chernausek said. …

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