February 8, 2023

Dr. Anna Kahkoska

Dr. Anna Kahkoska

Anna Kahkoska, MD, PhD, assistant professor of nutrition at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, has been named one of two winners of the American Diabetes Association’s® (ADA) Pathway to Stop Diabetes® (Pathway) grants, a five-year grant to support breakthroughs in translational science, clinical science, technology, care, and potential cures in the field of diabetes.

Kahkoska is also an adjunct assistant professor with the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism in the School of Medicine and a dual MD/PhD alumna from the Gillings School and School of Medicine. She received the Pathway grant for her research, Fusing rapid-cycle testing and adaptive interventions: A scientific pipeline to translate and individualize evidence-based psychosocial and behavioral interventions in routine Type 1 diabetes care, which investigates how to integrate and tailor evidence-based mental health resources and interventions into routine patient care for people living with Type 1 diabetes (T1D).

“Psychological well-being is foundational for reaching treatment goals in T1D, and interventions that support behavioral and psychosocial aspects of living with diabetes are a critical aspect of providing comprehensive, person-centered care,” said Kahkoska. “The Pathway award will allow me to build a scientific pipeline to translate interventions from research settings to the clinic and individualize them to meet each patient’s unique needs.”

“Dr. Kahkoska is emblematic of a researcher whose innovative approach to T1D can transform lives,” said Beth Mayer-Davis, PhD, the Cary C. Boshamer Distinguished Professor of Nutrition and Medicine and dean of The Graduate School at UNC. “As a former graduate mentor of Dr. Kahkosha’s, it’s invigorating to know that our alumni go on to pursue careers and secure nationwide recognition for research to develop evidence-based, person-centered care.”

“Dr. Kahkoska is one of the most exciting young talents in diabetes research. Her work pushes the envelope of what is important in diabetes care and how to get there. Therefore, it is exciting that she has received this significant national award,” said John Buse, MD, PhD, Verne S. Caviness Distinguished Professor and director of the Diabetes Center and the North Carolina Translational and Clinical Sciences (TraCS) Institute. In addition, Dr. Kahkosa is a current NC TraCS KL2 Scholar.

The second grant recipient is Lisa Beutler, MD, PhD of Northwestern University Medical School for her research, Dissecting sugar-induced modulation of gut-brain circuits, which seeks to understand how sugar consumption alters the connection between the gut and the brain, and how this may link to obesity and Type 2 diabetes.

“Excessive sugar intake is clearly linked with the development of diabetes and obesity, but the mechanisms underlying this association are not completely understood,” said Beutler. “I want to determine how what we eat alters the activity of brain centers that control appetite and blood glucose at single-cell resolution. This will allow us to understand how certain diets promote the development of diabetes and obesity by disrupting neural activity. Ultimately we hope this will lead to better treatments for obesity and its complications, including Type 2 diabetes.”

The Pathway program provides funding and support not only for research but for promising young innovators who are sparking momentum to benefit diabetes patient care. The ADA has supported these individuals and their potential to change the face of diabetes care since 2014.

“Supporting researchers is vital to our mission at the ADA. Their contributions lead to improved diabetes care and technology, as well as the discovery of possible cures,” said Charles “Chuck” Henderson, CEO of the ADA. “Our Pathway to Stop Diabetes grants create an environment of success for awardees and provides them with the autonomy, resources, and guidance needed to pioneer the next historic advancement in diabetes care. Congratulations to Drs. Beutler and Kahkoska. The ADA is honored to support their important work.”

To learn about past and current Pathway award recipients, visit Pathway to Stop Diabetes.

The North Carolina Translational and Clinical Sciences (NC TraCS) Institute, the integrated hub of the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) program at UNC-Chapel Hill, is supported through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant UL1TR002489. The NIH’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) leads the program.

Contact the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health communications team at sphcomm@unc.edu.

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