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Pilot Projects

Center for Diabetes Translational Research

​CAIANDTR Pilot Program

The Center for American Indian and Alaska Native Diabetes Translational Research’s (CAIANDTR) Pilot and Feasibility Program supports small scale research projects that explore the extension of diabetes prevention and treatment research – with special emphasis on reducing risk as well as enhancing clinical outcomes – to American Indians and Alaska Natives. The CAIANDTR is particularly interested in stimulating work that considers the relevance of recent discoveries for application within Native communities. Toward this end, we will soon be soliciting a new round of proposals from University of Colorado Denver faculty.

This funding opportunity provides two (2) years of support, at $25,000 per year, to either new investigators in the process of establishing careers in diabetes prevention and/or treatment research or mid-career scientists seeking to redirect their efforts to translational research consistent with our mission. Successful applicants will be expected to pursue the research in question among an American Indian or Alaska Native community for whom such work is of high priority. The CAIANDTR will assist investigators in establishing the academic/community partnerships necessary to undertake funded projects. The proposed study must be scientifically meritorious, be feasible within the time and resources available, hold promise of local benefit, and suggest a line of inquiry that can continue beyond the terms of this initial investment.


Funded Research Opportunities

​American Indian and TOPS Collaboration for Health (AITCH)


Nia Mitchell, M.D.

American Indians are at increased risk for Type 2 diabetes compared to other Americans. A primary risk factor for diabetes is being overweight or obese, and American Indians are more likely to be overweight or obese than other Americans.  Therefore, effective interventions focused on weight management hold promise for diminishing the diabetes-related disparities American Indians face.  Take Off Pounds Sensibly (TOPS) is a nonprofit, low-cost, peer-led, nationally available weight loss program, and a recent study showed that TOPS helped people lose 5% of their initial weight and maintain the weight loss for up to 3 years.  Each TOPS chapter decides the types of programs it would like to include; therefore each chapter can be tailored to fit the needs of its members. The objective of this project is to explore and address barriers to the diffusion of TOPS in the American Indian community in the Denver metropolitan area by offering the program to 50 American Indian participants through a local community organization that serves the American Indian community.  Both qualitative and quantitative assessments will be utilized. Surveys will be used to evaluate the eating and physical activity patterns, self efficacy, and stages of change pre- and post-intervention.  Focus groups will be used to determine the feasibility and acceptability of the program and to get feedback on ways to tailor the program to the American Indian community.  We will also assess the weight change of participants over a 12 week intervention.

Numeracy Intervention to Improve Diabetes Self-care (NIIDS)


Angela Brega, Ph.D.

Growing evidence suggests that the ability to understand and use numbers (“numeracy”) may have important implications for diabetes self-care.  Compared to patients with stronger numerical skills, those with limited numeracy check their blood sugar levels less frequently, are less likely to adjust their insulin doses based on carbohydrate intake and blood sugar levels, have less confidence that they can manage their diabetes (i.e., self-efficacy), and have worse glycemic control. The objective of this project is to develop a computerized intervention to teach American Indian patients a subset of the numeracy skills needed to manage diabetes.  The intervention will focus on three sets of self-care skills (understanding blood glucose values, monitoring carbohydrate intake, managing cardiovascular risk) and will be culturally tailored for the American Indian tribe that is participating in the project.  The computerized intervention will incorporate audio- and video-based education and will comply with recommendations for clear communication of health information.  Pilot testing of the intervention will be conducted with 50 American Indian patients with diabetes from a large Indian Health Service clinic serving our partner tribe.  Using a pre-post design, we will examine change over time in diabetes numeracy, self-efficacy, stage of change, and self-care behavior.

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