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Faculty & Staff Honors

Faculty & Staff Honors

UNC: Researchers to Address Arsenic-Induced Diabetes with $12.2M Grant

Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will band together across disciplines to find and formulate solutions for arsenic-induced diabetes in the state. The 5-year program is funded through a highly competitive award from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, which totals $12.2 million.

Dr. Rebecca Fry, the Carol Remmer Angle Distinguished Professor in Children’s environmental Health at the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health, will serve as principal investigator of the UNC Superfund Research Program.

Millions of individuals in the United States are exposed to potentially high levels of inorganic arsenic (iAs), which poses serious public health challenges. In North Carolina, inorganic arsenic contamination can result from industrial activities, such as coal production, as well as from naturally-occurring sources.

An estimated ~3 million individuals — representing one-third of the population in North Carolina — drink water from private wells, with iAs concentrations in some regions ranging up to 800 parts per billion. These populations are largely located in rural areas of the state, prompting environmental justice concerns. The link between inorganic arsenic exposure and diabetes is well-established. There is, however, a significant gap in the knowledge of factors that drive iAs-induced diabetes risk.

“I am excited to lead this talented team to identify the mechanisms that drive iAs-induced diabetes,” Dr. Fry said. “Our goal is to develop new solutions, interventions and treatments to reduce the prevalence of diabetes and other iAs-associated diseases.”

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