Inaugural scholarship will further diabetes research in Australia

The recipient of an inaugural diabetes research scholarship says she will use her award to further her research into diabetes complications.

Accepting the Ranji and Amara Wikramanayake Clinical Diabetes Research Award at the ADS/ADEA annual conference held on the Gold Coast last week Professor Sophia Zoungas from the Monash University in Melbourne told delegates that the award would help to kickstart a project looking at the effects of statin therapy on glucometabolic health in the elderly.

The Statins in Reducing Events in the Elderly (StaREE) trial will examine the hypotheses that among healthy elderly people aged over 70 treatment with a statin will prolong overall survival and disability free survival.

It will also look at whether treatment with a statin compared to placebo will reduce major cardiovascular events in the population.

“I am presenting it to you today as there are other important aspects to look at from a diabetes perspective…the trial is currently underway, but there’s also the opportunity to perform sub-studies as part of the bigger trial,” she told delegates.

In addition to examining the effect of statin therapy on glucometabolic health Professor Zoungas said she also wants to determine the extent to which development of diabetes among statin treated elderly individuals influences the risk/benefit balance of treatment.

“We’re also hoping to examine some of the hypothetical changes that could occur to insulin sensitivity and beta-cell function with statin therapy over time,” said Professor Zoungas, who received the award for her research into understanding the prevention, screening and management of type 2 diabetes and its vascular complications.

“Some of this award that I’ve kindly received today will help produce some of the pilot work on these studies,” she said.

The scholarship of up to $40,000 will be funded from a $1 million donation from Dr Ranji Wikramanayake and his wife.

Dr Wikramanayake has spent over 35 years in Australia, Sri Lanka and the United Kingdom treating patients and implementing hospital services for people living with  diabetes.

Talking to delegates about why he had chosen to establish the award, Dr Wikramanayake said, “This scholarship will help to ensure that research into the treatment of diabetes continues to improve the lives of those impacted by the disease and continues to fund the search for a cure.”

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