Research Scientist Teaches Campers about Diabetes
Byline: Janice Youngwith
Summer camp is a rite of passage for millions of American children and teens.But for hundreds of Chicago area teens, tweens and even tots with Type 1 diabetes, there's an added ingredient crucial to camp success -- diabetes education, acceptance and understanding.
"It was an amazing experience," says Dr. Bruce Riser, director of research and scientific affairs at Baxter Healthcare who attended American Diabetes Association Teen Adventure Camp this summer to speak with teens about renal disease and his kidney research.
Riser,an American Diabetes Association-funded researcher, was one of many research scientists attending ADA summer camp programs to share information and experience with campers as part of on-site diabetes education efforts.
Speaking directly with teens living with Type 1 diabetes about kidney health and complication prevention was a profound experience for Riser, whoalso serves as a professor of physiology and biophysics at Rosalind Franklin University where he supervises and operates a full-time research laboratory.
"The teens surprised me with their understanding and questions," he said.
In addition, they seemed eager to hear about his research and learn of steps they could take today to help prevent complications, including kidney failure, down the road. Riser, who earned his doctorate in public health and postdoctoral fellowship in pathology from the University of Michigan, said learning of the teens' interests and better understanding their need to connect with others who also have Type 1 diabetes, was enlightening.
"They were very practical, had a good understanding of what it takes to maintain good diabetes control and I was impressed by the level of nutritional awareness the teens learned at camp," Riser says. He especially loved a chance to observe teens navigating a high ropes course and hopes to see some of the campers opting for a career in science or medicine.
Research aids dialysis patients
Dialysis and renal disease are specialty areas of research for Riser, who with his Baxter team is challenged to help develop new drugs to aid dialysis patients, improve equipment, find solutions and support ongoing research.
Earlier in his career as a senior staff scientist and associate director of the nephrology research program at Henry Ford Hospital in Michigan, Riser began studying diabetic renal fibrosis, a common complication of diabetes, and a major cause of end-stage renal disease.
"We worked to identify a protein in the kidney important to the development of fibrosis and which might play a role in kidney failure,"Riser says. A molecule that also is important for wound healing was identified. "We found that molecule, CCN2, also is stimulated by hyperglycemia and high blood pressure within the kidney."
In 2009 Riser and his team published a paper on a new counter-molecule important to controlling diabetic renal disease and the next year published two additional scientific papers on the topic. …