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Dana Dabelea, MD, PhD 

Director of the LEAD Center and Conrad M. Riley Endowed Professor

For nearly 20 years, Dr. Dabelea has focused on the rising rate of type 2 diabetes in youth, and is the author of one of the first papers to highlight this trend. Originally from Romania, she trained as a physician diabetologist, completed a clinical science PhD, and then went on to spend two years of postdoctoral studies at the National Institute of Diabetes and D​igestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) where she focused on diabetes research among the Pima Indians. It was there that she became interested in the rising rates of type 2 diabetes, particularly in youth. Dr. Dabelea�s research looking at diabetes during pregnancy led her to believe that a life course approach to diabetes with a specific focus on pediatric diabetes, could increase the likelihood of identifying early risk factors for the disease, as well as its progression, before chronic complications can develop.


 Research Interests:

  • ​​Chronic Disease Epidemiology

  • Pediatric Diabetes

  • Insulin Resistance & Obesity

  • Life-course Epidemiology

  • Developmental Origins of Chronic Diseases

Courses Taught:

  • ​EPID 6630: Epidemiology

  • EPID 7911: Epidemiologic Field Methods

  • EPID 7912: Developing a Research Grant

  • EPID 8990: Doctoral Thesis

Current Research Projects:

  •  NIDDK: Healt​hy Start Study (12/06-7/19, Principal Investigator): A longitudinal pre-birth cohort study of 1400 mother-child dyads to assess the role of in utero and early life exposures on childhood obesity and related outcomes.  

  • NIH: ECCHO (9/14-8/18, Principal Investigator): This study tracks fetal exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals in utero that are known to be associated with the development of obesity-related outcomes in offspring.

  • NIH: Epigenetic Markers of Gestational Diabetes​ (7/14-6/17, Principal Investigator): A study to track the epigenetic markers of gestational diabetes.

  •  NIH: Exploring Perinatal Outcomes among CHildren (EPOCH) (7/04-6/16, Principal Investigator): A longitudinal study of adolescents and their long-term health outcomes related to whether they were exposed to maternal gestational diabetes.

  • CDC/NIDDK: SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth, Colorado Center (9/00-6/15, Principal Investigator): SEARCH is conducting surveillance of diabetes in youth age up to 20 years to assess trends in the incidence of diabetes by type, race/ethnicity, and sex. It also includes a longitudinal cohort component to understand the metabolic, behavioral and socio-economic determinants of sub-clinical chronic diabetes complications.

  • NIDDK: Diabetes Prevention Program Outcomes Study (DPPOS) (8/94-3/15, Principal Investigator): A landmark trial to show that lifestyle changes or the metformin drug can effectively delay diabetes in overweight or obese American adults.

  • NIH: Tribal Turning Point (5/13-4/14, Principal Investigator): This study explored a culturally-appropriate behavioral intervention to prevent type 2 diabetes in American Indian Youth.

  • National Children's Study (9/08-9/13, Study Center Principal Investigator): This study was aimed at developing a large, population-based cohort of 100,000 children recruited before birth and followed up through 21 years of age. 


  • ​University of Medicine, Timisoara, Romania, MD, 1990

  • University of Medicine, Timisoara, Romania, Residency, Internal Medicine, 1991-94

  • University of Medicine, Timisoara, Romania, PhD, Clinical Sciences, 1997

  • University of Medicine Timisoara, Romania, Residency, Diabetes & Metabolic Diseases, 1994-97

  • NIDDK, Phoenix, AZ, Fellowship, Diabetes Epidemiology,

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