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Building a Pipeline for Diabetes Investigators at SBM

Todd Doyle, MS, Diabetes SIG Student Co-Chair

Diabetes has reached epidemic proportions in the United States, affecting 23.6 million people.1 This public health crisis has resulted in a significant number of challenges and economic burdens for patients, their families, and healthcare systems. The last two decades have seen major advances in psychosocial diabetes-related research, interventions, and policy/guideline developments. This important work has helped to improve our understanding of how to reduce diabetes risk factors, improve diabetes outcomes and quality of life, and address comorbid problems such as depression and anxiety. As this epidemic continues to grow, the emerging generation of diabetes scientists will likely need to respond to new psychosocial challenges and demands on a scale not previously seen before, and in a time of competing healthcare agendas and contrasting social and economic priorities. In order to meet the complex and changing needs of patients with diabetes, we need to make sure that there is a sufficient number of diabetes investigators in the pipeline to ensure the continued advancement of behavioral and psychological research in our field. A key question is how can we inspire, attract, and prepare early-career investigators, faculty, and students to become involved in diabetes research and science in order to maintain the momentum we have achieved thus far?

The Diabetes Special Interest Group at SBM is ideally suited to help build a career pipeline that supports the development, professional networking, and training of young investigators and students interested in diabetes-related psychosocial topics. In particular, there are at least three ways that the Diabetes SIG can be useful to early-career investigators. First, for young researchers including graduate and medical students, SBM is a terrific venue to showcase behavioral and/or psychosocial research on diabetes. Submitting abstracts and presenting findings at SBM can help to increase the profile of one's work within the diabetes research community. Second, part of the excitement of attending national conferences such as SBM is having the opportunity to interact with other enthusiastic diabetes scientists. Participating in Diabetes SIG-related activities (such as this year's Diabetes, Obesity, and Physical Activity Cross-Collaboration SIG meeting) is a great way for young investigators and students to network and participate in interdisciplinary conversations among psychologists, physicians, dieticians, nurses, health educators, and public health advocates. Third, the Diabetes SIG sponsors and supports career development workshops, for both mentors and mentees, in order to inspire and propel the next generation of diabetes investigators forward. For example, during the 2010 Annual Meeting, the Diabetes SIG sponsored the National Institute of Health Grant Writing Workshop for Diabetes and Obesity Research that was targeted to new and early career investigators who were interested in learning about NIH funding mechanisms as well as gaining tips and feedback from established investigators on ways to enhance their grant applications. The future of diabetes psychosocial research is bound to be full of tremendous excitement and potential with which to advance the practice of diabetes science. To those interested in diabetes - whether you are an established, early-career, or student investigator - we invite you to join the Diabetes SIG at SBM so that together we can all help to build a pipeline for the future of diabetes psychosocial research.

Members of SBM can sign-up for the Diabetes SIG listserv using the following link: http://list.sbm.org/mailman/listinfo/Diabetes_list.sbm.org


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Diabetes Public Health Resource (2007). National Diabetes Fact Sheet. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/pubs/factsheet07.htm.