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'Smart' insulin could reduce dangerous complications of diabetes treatment

Zhen Gu, PhD (front) & John Buse, MD, PhD
Zhen Gu, PhD (front) & John Buse, MD, PhD

A study supported by the North Carolina Translational and Clinical Sciences (NC TraCS) Institute has developed a "smart" insulin that could reduce dangerous complications in people who use the drug to manage diabetes. This new type of insulin, called i-insulin, is released for action when the blood sugar or glucose levels rise and blocks its own activity when glucose levels fall.

The findings, generated in mice, appeared this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The research was led by former University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researcher Zhen Gu, PhD, now a professor of bioengineering at UCLA.

More pre-clinical tests and subsequent clinical trials in humans will be required before the smart insulin will be available to patients, according to study co-author John Buse, MD, PhD, co-PI of NC TraCS. "However, the vision, if realized, would be one of the most exciting advances in diabetes care," he said.

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TraCS Director Dr. John Buse receives 2019 Outstanding Achievement in Clinical Diabetes Research Award

John Buse, MD, PhD

John Buse, MD, PhD, the Verne S. Caviness Distinguished Professor of Medicine, and Elizabeth Davis-Mayer, PhD, the Cary C. Boshamer Distinguished Professor of Nutrition and Medicine, will be honored at the annual American Diabetes Association Scientific Sessions for their clinical research and epidemiological work.

John B. Buse, MD, PhD, is the recipient of the 2019 Outstanding Achievement in Clinical Diabetes Research Award given by the American Diabetes Association. This award recognizes exceptional contributions in patient-oriented clinical outcomes research that have had a significant impact on diabetes prevention and treatment.

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Modeling shows AED drones could double heart attack survival rates

Jessica Zègre-Hemsey, PhD, RN

Researchers from UNC-Chapel Hill and NC State University have modeled the public health impact of delivering automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) via drones.

The researchers are currently conducting a feasibility study with test flights on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus with funding from a North Carolina Translational and Clinical Sciences (NC TraCS) Institute / North Carolina State University Collaborative Translational Research pilot grant award.

Jessica Zègre-Hemsey, PhD, RN, a co-investigator on the pilot award and an author of the modeling publication, is an NC TraCS KL2 scholar supported by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, National Institutes of Health, through Grant KL2TR001109.

Wayne Rosamond, PhD

Out of the estimated 395,000 adults who experience out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) each year in the United States, only six percent survive to hospital discharge. Despite national efforts to improve this rate, it has remained unchanged for the past 30 years.

Wayne Rosamond, PhD, professor of epidemiology at the UNC-Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health, aims to break that holding pattern by using drones to deliver automatic external defibrillators (AEDs).

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New treatment shows promising improvements for women with postpartum depression

Samantha Meltzer-Brody, MD, MPH, director of the Perinatal Psychiatry Program at the School of Medicine and the Ray M. Hayworth Distinguished Professor in Mood and Anxiety Disorders, led the three clinical trials leading up to the FDA approval of the first treatment of postpartum depression. UNC Health Care was a study site for these trials, supported by our TraCS Clinical and Translational Research Center (CTRC) nursing staff. In the most recent Phase 3 trial, study participants were admitted to the Perinatal Psychiatry Inpatient Unit (PPIU) while CTRC nursing staff traveled to the PPIU to conduct study dosing visits. Additionally, study screening and follow-up visits were conducted in the CTRC outpatient unit.


After three clinical trials led by a Carolina researcher, a new injection has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat postpartum depression.

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