Because of dramatic increases in their prevalence, diabetes and obesity have become among the most common and costly health problems in the US and other developed countries. Two-thirds of the adult US population is overweight and half of those individuals – one-third of the adult population – are obese. The prevalence of type 2 diabetes (formerly known as “adult-onset”) has also increased markedly in recent decades not only among adults, but in children as well. Although type 1 diabetes is less common, it is a devastating disorder affecting both children and adults and, while treatments for both types of diabetes exist, neither is curable and effective treatments for obesity have yet to be developed. Metabolic complications associated with diabetes and obesity include inflammation and dyslipidemia that, together with hyperglycemia, accelerate the progression of atherosclerotic vascular disease.
At the molecular, cellular and physiological level, mechanisms underlying these diseases are highly integrated and interactive and, therefore, are difficult to study in isolation. This fact poses a formidable challenge to investigators and heightens the need for multidisciplinary research programs capable of pursuing a variety of interrelated scientific questions simultaneously. A major goal of the DOCE is to support Center investigators through enhanced training, core support, and research funding opportunities and by creating interactive networks of investigators that bring a variety of different types of expertise to a focused research effort.