The Problem

Drs. Eva Feldman & Stephanie Eid

Diabetes is a global epidemic and public health burden. Almost 537 million adults are living with diabetes worldwide, a number projected to increase to 784 million by 2045. In the United States, 1 in every 10 adults have diabetes, and over 20% of those don’t even know they have it.

  • Type 1 diabetes (T1D) can develop at any age, but most frequently is diagnosed in adolescents and children. In T1D, the pancreas loses the cells that make insulin, the glucose regulating biomolecule.
  • Type 2 diabetes (T2D), the more common form, accounts for around 95% of diabetes cases and is diagnosed most frequently in adults. In T2D, the body develops insulin resistance and can no longer regulate glucose. Unfortunately, controlling blood glucose alone is not sufficient to slow or reverse damage to complication-prone tissues, including peripheral nerves.

Obesity and T2D are closely associated with each other. More than 90% of people with T2D are overweight. Additionally, obesity and prediabetes often lead to T2D. Complications of obesity, T1D, and T2D include nerve, eye, kidney, and cardiovascular damage. These complications can eventually lead to significant disability and possibly death.

  • Diabetes was the 7th leading cause of death in adults in 2019 (before COVID).
  • Diabetes is the #1 cause of kidney failure and adult blindness.

Our research focuses on how obesity and T2D damage the nervous system—particularly, we study damage to peripheral nerves in the arms and legs, which leads to neuropathy, as well as damage to the brain, leading to cognitive decline.

"At least half of the 30 million Americans with diabetes have neuropathy. It’s a very common, prevalent problem in a very common, prevalent disease. Additionally, about 30% of the 84 million Americans with prediabetes have neuropathy." (in 2020)

Dr. Eva Feldman | U.S. News & World Report