Miller School Geneticist Wins NIH “EUREKA” Award for Innovative Diabetic Neuropathy Research

Gaofeng Wang, Ph.D., associate professor of human genetics and Director of the Division for Functional Genomics at the John P. Hussman Institute for Human Genomics, has been awarded $800,000 for a four-year grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke for an innovative research project on diabetic neuropathy. The grant is part of the highly competitive NIH program EUREKA — Exceptional, Unconventional Research Enabling Knowledge Acceleration — that supports unusually bold research projects and enables scientists to test novel concepts, tools and approaches that have potential to transform research.

Diabetic neuropathy, a major complication of diabetes that affects millions of Americans, currently has no effective treatments, other than pain management. Wang will use the EUREKA grant to test an unconventional hypothesis that a deficiency in vitamin C with diabetes impairs the epigenome, which could lead to neuropathy. If confirmed, the research could lead to new treatment options to delay or prevent the condition.

“Our approach has the potential to open up entirely new pathways to a field that has made relatively little progress in the recent decade, especially in terms of translational applications,” said Wang.

Co-investigators on the grant include Mary Bunge, Ph.D., Christine E. Lynn Distinguished Professor of Neuroscience and professor of cell biology, neurological surgery and neurology at The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, and Stephan Züchner, M.D., Ph.D., professor of human genetics and neurology and Interim Chair of the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation Department of Human Genetics.

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