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CEO's BLOG: May 23, 2012

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What I Have Learned

It has been one month since I started in my new job here at PNDRI and if there is one word to describe my experience so far, it is “learning.”  I am on one of the steepest learning curves of my professional career.  I have learned about the wonderful work that PNDRI’s world class scientists and staff are engaged in, from exploring the underlying biological causes of diabetes, to discovering new ways of predicting and protecting children at risk of developing type 1 diabetes, to testing interventions that will improve the health of people living with type 2 diabetes.  I have learned about the passion, hope and optimism that people touched by diabetes bring in support of PNDRI.  And I have learned that Seattle is the home of some of the most innovative research in diabetes and obesity, making it a rich environment for partnership. 

Unfortunately, not all of what I have learned is positive.  Just last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) released their publication World Health Statistic 2012, which this year, for the first time, included statistics on non-communicable diseases, including diabetes.  The figures are discouraging; one in 10 adults worldwide has diabetes, an illness that costs billions of dollars to treat and puts sufferers at risk of heart disease, kidney failure and blindness.  And these numbers will get worse in the years to come.  The WHO reported that the rates of obesity, a major risk factor for the development of diabetes, has doubled in every region of the world between 1980 and 2008, a trend of increase that will continue.  The highest obesity levels are found in the Americas, where 26 percent of adults are obese.  Further, the report found that women in all parts of the world are more likely to be obese than men, and are therefore at greater risk of diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.

Much, much more needs to be done in the fight against diabetes both domestically and abroad.  The needed breakthroughs will emerge from the highest quality scientific research and PNDRI is poised to become a leader in finding ways to make a meaningful impact in this fight.

I invite you to join with me in a journey of learning and discovery on the road to addressing what is likely to be one of the greatest health challenges that we face.

- John R. Wecker, Ph.D. May 23, 2012