The Norman Transcript

July 24, 2006

Tribes team up to fight diabetes with OU


Brad Henry signs Oklahoma Diabetes Center bill

By Althea Peterson

Transcript Staff Writer

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The state fight against diabetes will not be undertaken alone.

Both the Chicksaw and Choctaw nations announced millions toward endowed positions at the future Oklahoma Diabetes Center and to University of Oklahoma diabetes research and clinical care programs.

The Chickasaw Nation will fund a $1 million chair at the center now and a second $1 million endowed faculty position will be funded in 2007. The Choctaw Nation will fund two $500,000 endowed faculty positions, one designated for pediatrics. OU announced it will apply for matching amounts from the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education for both tribes' donations, including a position designated for the clinical director of the Oklahoma Diabetes Center's Adult Diabetes Program.

OU President David Boren said both tribes have a special interest in diabetes treatment and research because of the disproportionately high incidence of diabetes in the Native American community.

"OU already has an extremely strong nucleus of diabetes researchers and physicians as part of the Oklahoma Diabetes Center, led by Dr. Timothy J. Lyons and Dr. Kenneth Copeland," Boren said. "To become one of the leading diabetes centers in the country, we have to continue recruiting additional outstanding scientists and clinicians. We are extremely grateful to the Chickasaw and Choctaw nations for this generous commitment to new faculty endowments in diabetes."

The new Chickasaw Nation positions in diabetes will complement the Chickasaw Nation CMRI Chair in Pediatric Diabetes, which was funded in 2005 by the Chickasaw Nation and Children's Medical Research Institute.

Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby, Choctaw Nation Chief Greg Pyle and Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry were all present for the ceremonial signing of the bill at the State Capitol.

A complex disease for which there is no cure, diabetes is a leading cause of heart attacks, strokes, amputations, blindness, kidney failure, and fetal mortality. The serious complications of diabetes are increasing in frequency among American Indians, including rising rates of kidney failures, amputations and blindness.

Althea Peterson 366-3539 apeterson@normantranscript.com