October 12, 2022

The IDNC's Six-Year Endeavor Wraps Up In Denmark

Those who were involved in the incredible work of the International Diabetic Neuropathy Consortium joined to celebrate their extraordinary accomplishments.

“Diabetic neuropathy continues to be a major complication of diabetes. It is associated with increased mortality and threatens life quality for millions of people worldwide, and the disease is often first diagnosed when nerve damage has (already) developed.” Troels Stahaelen Jensen, M.D., Director of the IDNC

Research group leaders: Drs. Brian Callaghan and Eva Feldman from the University of Michigan, Troels Jensen from Southern Denmark University and Aarhus University in Denmark, and David Bennett from Oxford University in the UK

With that in mind, the IDNC was created six years ago with a challenge grant from the Novo Nordisk Foundation.  This allowed a consortium of leading experts from four academic centers – the  University of Michigan, University of Oxford (UK), University of Southern Denmark, and Aarhus University (Denmark) – to study the debilitating disorder on a scale that had never been done before.  Researchers from around the world, and with a variety of expertise, joined forces to study various aspects of diabetic neuropathy, ranging from basic pathophysiology, genetics and epidemiology to diagnostic issues and preventative measures.  Eva Feldman, M.D., Ph.D., and Brian Callaghan, M.D., M.S., led the work at Michigan Medicine, along with Rodica Pop-Busui, M.D., Ph.D.

To mark the progress of the IDNC, Drs. Feldman, Callaghan and Pop-Busui traveled to Aarhus, Denmark, to meet with their fellow IDNC members.  Needless to say, there was plenty to celebrate as its research produced 122 publications in top academic journals, 22 coming from the NeuroNetwork itself.  These included essential insights into diabetic neuropathy uncovered by the global collaborative:

  1. Metabolic syndrome is a major contributor to neuropathy in patients with type 2 diabetes, which was shown in both mouse models and humans.
  2. The control of the factors of metabolic syndrome, not glucose alone, can help prevent and even reverse diabetic neuropathy.
  3. Increased waist circumference is associated with increased neuropathy and cognitive decline.
Drs. Rodica Pop-Busui and Eva Feldman

“We did a lot of nice work,” Dr. Feldman remarked.  That is a gross understatement, to say the least.

Three of the four keynotes at the IDNC Closing Symposium were given by the Michigan Medicine contingent.  Dr. Callaghan spoke about the “Epidemiology of DPN (diabetic peripheral neuropathy): lessons from the U.S., ”  Dr. Feldman shared “Lipid changes in DPN,” and Dr. Pop-Busui described “Autonomic dysfunction in DPN.”

The concluding dinner for the event not only honored the incredible body of research produced by the IDNC but also the career of its director, Troels Jensen, M.D., who is retiring.

“Troels has been such a dear friend and important partner in our diabetes research,” said Dr. Feldman.  He is a giant in the community and his presence will be sorely missed.  That said, he has mentored an incredible generation of young researchers who I know will take the reins and continue this important work.

Members of the IDNC from around the world