The Lord Provost of Dundee, Ian Borthwick, has become the 200,000th signatory to a unique database helping researchers to carry out ground-breaking medical research.
He signed up for the Scottish Health Research Register (SHARE) when he welcomed the world-renowned diabetes researcher Dr V Mohan to the city on Monday 12 March to discuss a major new Scotland-India clinical partnership to combat diabetes.
SHARE is a University of Dundee-led initiative that provides researchers with a database of suitable and willing recruits. SHARE also uses blood left over from routine testing to help improve treatments for diseases such as cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and asthma.
The success of SHARE helped lead to Dundee’s Professor Colin Palmer being awarded a £7million grant from the National Institute of Health Research to establish a Global Health Research Unit to work with Dr Mohan’s Madras Diabetes Research Center in Chennai. Professor Palmer and Dr Mohan also discussed their research and collaboration at a public lecture today.
“Diabetes is a major problem in India with 1 in 12 people affected, amounting to 69 million individuals currently, which is more than the entire UK population,” said Professor Palmer, Chair of Pharmacogenomics at the University.
“With increasing economic development and lifestyle changes those numbers are rapidly increasing. Yet current knowledge about diabetes is largely derived from studies on white, European-ancestry populations. This is despite the fact that diabetes in Europeans is very different to diabetes in South Asians.
“We need to understand more about diabetes in different populations. There is an urgent need for a large, in-depth study of the specific causes and consequences of diabetes in India in order to identify different subtypes of diabetes that exist and understand how best to manage each subtype.
“Our NIHR project with Dr Mohan will address that. It will also look at new ways of providing diabetes screening, using smartphone technology and retinal scans, which will provide valuable insights into how we can deliver more cost-effective and affordable diagnosis and treatment of diabetes, which is an issue here in the UK and around the world.
“Good health is a global endeavour. Our recent NIHR award has strengthened our position as a global leader in diabetes research and innovation and allowed us to collaborate on a global scale with centres such as Chennai. This project will command access to two of the most advanced diabetes management systems in the world, and include the anonymised data collated from those who agreed to help diabetes research in Scotland by signing the SHARE register.”
The partnership combines Dundee’s world-leading expertise in the use of medical record databases such as SHARE with Chennai’s large patient data set covering over 400,000 diabetic patients. Diabetes in India and Scotland will be compared and contrasted to determine common and specific problems, with the aim of providing an improvement in health and reduction in health inequalities in both countries.
Lord Provost Borthwick said, “Diabetes is a cruel disease that robs people of their vision and mobility if it goes unchecked so I was delighted to be able to add my name to the list of those happy to take part in research in the fight against it.
“We have a great track record in the city of leading the way when it comes to the use of medical databases and this latest partnership with the Madras Diabetes Research Centre in Chennai will help to cement that even further.”
Anyone who wants to join the SHARE register should visit www.registerforshare.org.