Type 1 Diabetes and the Environment

November 12, 2014
09:00 am US Eastern Time

Slides & Resources

Speaker presentation slides:

Dr. Atkinson: Overview of Natural History and Pathogenesis of Type 1 Diabetes

Dr. Norris: Type 1 Diabetes and the Environment: a Focus on Dietary Factors

Dr. Thayer: Environmental Chemicals and Type 1 Diabetes

Additional resources of interest:

Blog by Sarah Howard, National Coordinator of the CHE Diabetes-Obesity Spectrum Working Group: Are There Environmental Causes for Type 1 Diabetes?

NIEHS workhop on autoimmunity - Read more

Paper: Epidemiology of environmental exposures and human autoimmune diseases: Findings from a National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Expert Panel Workshop

Website: Diabetes and the Environment - Visit the website

Article: The Pathogenesis and Natural History of Type 1 Diabetes, by Mark Atkinson

Article: Type 1 diabetes, by Mark A Atkinson, George S Eisenbarth, Aaron W Michels

Listen to Recording

In honor of American Diabetes Month and World Diabetes Day, CHE hosted this call on type 1 diabetes and the environment. Speakers discussed evidence for the role of various environmental factors in the development of type 1 diabetes, and summarized current research in the field.

The autoimmune disease type 1 diabetes, formerly known as juvenile diabetes, is increasing in incidence in countries around the world. Patients require insulin treatment for life, and are at high risk of numerous long-term complications, as well as the short-term risks of high or low blood glucose levels.

Featured Speakers

Mark Atkinson, PhD, is the American Diabetes Association Eminent Scholar for Diabetes Research and the Jefferey Keene Family Professor at the University of Florida. The author of more than 300 publications, Dr. Atkinson has devoted nearly 30 years of investigation into the field of type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetes.  He is the recipient of multiple scientific and humanitarian based awards for these efforts. Those include three from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). The first was the Gerold and Gayla Grodsky award (2001) provided to the outstanding Ph.D. investigating type 1 diabetes. More recently, he was (twice) awarded the Mary Tyler Moore & S. Robert Levine M.D. award for translational research on type 1 diabetes (2004 and 2008). Dr. Atkinson was also a recent recipient of the prestigious Eli Lilly Award for Outstanding Scientific Achievement from the American Diabetes Association (2004), a rare honor in type 1 diabetes from that organization. Most recently, he received the Barbara Davis Award for contributions to the field seeking to prevent type 1 diabetes. He has also been active in a leadership service to the type 1 diabetes community, with active administrative or advisory service to The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Diapedia, The American Diabetes Association, The National Institutes of Health, and the Immunology of Diabetes Society. His interest in collaboration has driven his participation in a variety of organizations (e.g., the Brehm Coalition, the Helmsley Trust Type 1 Diabetes Centers) and technologies (e.g., nPOD Datashare) are representative examples of that interest. Finally, Dr. Atkinson is active at a global level for causes related to the care and treatment of those in the third world; especially and including persons with type 1 diabetes. For this cause, he serves as President of Insulin for Life USA, and is an Advisor to Life for a Child.

JillNorrisJill Norris, MPH, PhD, is Professor and Chair of the Department of Epidemiology in the Colorado School of Public Health at the University of Colorado in Denver.   Dr. Norris’ research has focused on the relationship between environment and the development of autoimmune diseases, including type 1 diabetes, celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus in genetically susceptible individuals.  Her scientific paper on omega-3 fatty acids and type 1 diabetes autoimmunity was selected as one of the top 25 papers included in the NIH publication, Annual Bibliography of Significant Advances in Dietary Supplements Research.  Dr. Norris served as a member of the NIEHS Expert Panel to Examine the Role of the Environment in the Development of Autoimmune Disease.  In addition, she and her collaborators have conducted family studies in defined populations that seeks to use what is known about the environmental component in type 2 diabetes to help identify susceptibility genes for the disorder.  It is hoped that these studies may shed light on the long-standing issue of the relationship between genes and environment in the development of both metabolic and autoimmune diseases.

Kristina Thayer, PhD, is director of the National Toxicology Program’s (NTP) Office of Health Assessment and Translation (OHAT) located on the campus of the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). OHAT conducts evaluations to assess the evidence that environmental chemicals, physical substances, or mixtures cause adverse health effects and provides opinions on whether these substances may be of concern given what is known about current human exposure levels. OHAT also organizes workshops, state-of-the-science evaluations, or other analysis activities to address issues of importance in environmental health sciences. Before becoming director of OHAT, she held positions in the NTP Office of Liaison, Policy, and Review, the NIEHS Office of Risk Assessment Research and the NTP Center for the Evaluation or Risks to Human Reproduction (CERHR). Dr. Thayer coordianted the NIEHS workshop on "The Role of Environmental Chemicals in the Development of Diabetes and Obesity." Prior to joining the NTP/NIEHS, she was a senior scientist at the World Wildlife Fund and then at the Environmental Working Group.

The call was moderated by Sarah Howard, National Coordinator of CHE's Diabetes-Obesity Spectrum Working Group. Ted Schettler, MD, MPH, CHE Science Director, and Science Director of the Science and Environmental Health Network, provided opening remarks.