School of Public Health receives grant for international collaboration on diabetes management

November 26, 2007
The American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation, with a grant from the Eli Lilly Foundation, has committed funding for a Program Development Center at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The program, Peers for Progress, is an international collaborative initiative to promote peer support for diabetes management.

Faculty from the UNC School of Public Health’s Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, the UNC School of Medicine’s departments of family medicine and internal medicine, and the UNC Diabetes Center will develop the program, including curricula, training materials and dissemination plans.

The $15 million grant will be distributed over five years.

“We need a new approach if we are going to successfully fight this debilitating disease,” said Craig Doane, Executive Director of the American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation. “We believe that better patient outcomes can occur through grassroots, community-based programs that empower patients to help each other lead healthier lives.”

Community-based programs may be of particular value now, as diabetes reaches pandemic proportions around the world and threatens to overwhelm health care systems in the United States and elsewhere.

Research has shown that peer-to-peer interactions, mentoring and role-modeling can improve long-term outcomes in management of the disease. Peers for Progress will develop a global program for lay volunteers with diabetes to become diabetes mentors. They will assist others with diabetes in adapting to the rigorous daily demands of monitoring and self-care.

The goal is ambitious: to certify 200,000 diabetes mentors in the U.S. (1% of people with diabetes in the U.S.) and two million people globally (1% of people worldwide who have the disease).

Faculty in the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education who will be involved include Drs. Jo Anne Earp, Eugenia Eng, Edwin Fisher, Laura Linnan, Suzanne Maman, and Deborah Tate.

Photograph of Dr. Ed Fisher

Photograph of Dr. Ed Fisher

“This is an exciting opportunity based on the University’s broad expertise in primary care and in diabetes — as well as our department’s rich credentials in peer- and community-based approaches to health promotion,” said Fisher, who is chair of the department.

Fisher said he looks forward to “working with colleagues in multiple arenas around the world to address a growing and critical health problem.”


School of Public Health contact: Ramona DuBose, director of communications, (919) 966-7467 or