UNCG Research

Zhang receives NIH R01 for type 1 diabetes research

CTBR researcher seeks novel biomarkers for early diagnosis of T1D


Posted on Wednesday, September 6th, 2017 by Hope Voorhees.

Dr. Qibin Zhang, co-director of UNCG’s Center for Translational Biomedical Research and an associate professor in the Department of Chemistry, has received an R01 grant from the National Institutes of Health for a research project seeking novel biomarkers for the diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. The award is $1.7 million over 5 years for the project.

Type 1 diabetes, or T1D, is caused by autoimmune destruction of insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. According to the CDC, 30.3 million people in the U.S. have diabetes, and approximately 1.5 million of those individuals have type 1 diabetes. Diabetes has an estimated annual cost of $245 billion in healthcare in the U.S. alone.

Since the onset of the disease is marked by a long asymptomatic period, T1D is often not diagnosed until significant damage has already occurred. Zhang’s research on novel biomarkers for T1D will aid efforts to identify individuals at risk and diagnose T1D earlier so that intervention or treatment can begin at an earlier stage. It will also improve understanding of the pathogenesis of the disease.

Dr. Zhang has also received a Collaborative Sciences Award from the American Heart Association in conjunction with scientists from the University of Colorado School of Medicine. That project aims to identify new markers to better predict the progression of coronary artery calcification in the T1D population. Calcification occurs prior to the onset of cardiovascular disease.


Founded by the state in 2008, UNCG’s Center for Translational Biomedical Research is located at the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis. The Center for Translational Biomedical Research focuses on the molecular mechanisms of disease pathogenesis and progression, biomarkers for diagnosis, and creating novel interventions for preventing and treating disease. The NCRC facilitates public-private partnerships between the corporations, healthcare organizations, and universities housed there. These partnerships are aimed at improving understanding of health, nutrition, and agriculture. 


Article author Hope Voorhees is a Media and Communication Intern with UNCG’s Office of Research and Engagement. She is a junior at UNCG, majoring in Psychology and Sociology with a concentration in Criminology.