Diabetes Education in Tribal Schools

Message from the NIDDK Director

On behalf of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) at the Department of Health and Human Services' National Institutes of Health, we welcome you to the Diabetes Education in Tribal Schools (DETS) Website.

Diabetes and our "First Americans" have long been a priority of the NIDDK. The Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), one of our most compelling studies, involved American Indians at Tribal sites in Arizona and New Mexico, as well as urban American Indians who participated at nearly every DPP clinical site across the country, and gave us dramatic results for the prevention of type 2 diabetes. Results from this landmark clinical trial showed that making modest lifestyle changes, such as losing a small amount of weight and being physically active, can lead to big rewards - the prevention or delay of type 2 diabetes.

In 2001, NIDDK hosted a meeting at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD to provide scientific updates on diabetes and to share the news and preliminary results of the DPP with the Indian Health Service and the Tribal Leaders Diabetes Committee (TLDC). It was at this meeting that Alvin Windy-Boy Co-Chair of the TLDC boldly challenged the NIDDK to use the science of the diabetes research and the knowledge that diabetes could be prevented in those people at risk, to educate and empower all tribal youth to prevent diabetes.

NIDDK enthusiastically accepted that challenge. Under the leadership of Dr. Lawrence Agodoa, Director, Office of Minority Health Research Coordination and Dr. Sanford Garfield, DETS Program Director, this unique and effective collaborative effort was born.

The DETS Health Is Life in Balance curriculum has been designed to increase American Indian and Alaska Native students understanding of health, diabetes, and maintaining life in balance; to increase their understanding and application of scientific and community knowledge; and to increase interest in science and health professions among American Indian and Alaska Native youth.

DETS has provided NIDDK with an opportunity to reach beyond supporting diabetes-related research to provide the resources to support the translation of science to the community to have a more long-term beneficial impact on the health of American Indian and Alaska Natives.

NIDDK remains committed to supporting diabetes related research among American Indian and Alaska Native communities and will continue our efforts to ensure that knowledge gained from major research advances is disseminated to health care providers, patients and community members at risk for diabetes.

As we look to the future, we hope to increase and enhance the impact of the DETS Program in our communities. Through the energy and continued commitment of our educators and Tribal Colleges and Universities, this vision can become a reality.

Griffin P. Rodgers, M.D., M.A.C.P.
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
National Institutes of Health
Diabetes Education in Tribal Schools