Volunteers are most important part of diabetes clinical research

Two out of three Americans are now overweight or obese—a controllable risk factor for diabetes and other diseases

Author Amy Rothberg is part of the Investigational Weight Management Clinic, diabetes1a clinical-research team that’s conducting a large Weight Management study to examine how best to help those who are obese reduce their weight and keep it off in an effort to minimize their risk of developing diabetes.

When it comes to diabetes clinical research, the majority of studies are related to exploring new drug treatments. The Weight Management study differs in that it’s also focused on the impact that lifestyle changes have on those who are obese, particularly in the effort to prevent them from developing diabetes.  In addition to lifestyle changes, we do look at options that, in some cases, include bariatric surgery and medications.  We understand that weight loss is not one-size-fits-all, and each person’s journey is unique.

Since 2010, we have enrolled more than 500 people in our study and have seen an almost 65% remission rate in Type 2 diabetes. We have found that even a modest weight loss has been shown to delay the progression to diabetes, confirming earlier intervention trial results such as those from the Diabetes Prevention Program.  Most participants have been able to reduce their weight and have improved diabetes control, but they also have a marked reduction in all of their medications, and they have much greater improvement in health-related quality of life.


We know that people need structure to lose weight, but they often don’t have the tools. Our program is the tool kit to get it done. People get phenomenally excited by the results they see in our clinic. We hear “Why did I wait so long?” all the time. They are even more motivated to keep going once they lose weight, reduce or eliminate medications, and move better for longer periods of time.

To expand on the study’s early findings, we’re continuing to enroll volunteers for our two-year clinical research program. If you or someone you love has a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 35 or greater, you may be eligible.  Learn more about how you may be able to take part in this study.

Make a difference for yourself and others

Volunteers are very important to the work we do—we can’t make progress in diabetes prevention and treatment without them. They are the most critical part of clinical research. People become more invested in their own health when they participate, even when it is more time-consuming. We recognize the efforts, time and commitment that they invest to help us, and we’re eternally grateful for that. To solve these problems and to fix these issues, we need volunteers. Not just people who are sick, but also healthy people from whom we can also learn.

My biggest goal is to put a notch in lowering the epidemic of obesity and diabetes. Finding out what factors contribute to maintaining weight loss in order to maintain the maximum health benefits, whether through drugs, lifestyle intervention, surgery or a combination of any or all of these, will go a long way to ending obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Take the next step:



Amy E. Rothberg, M.D., is Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine in the Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology and Diabetes (MEND), and Director of the MEND Investigational Weight Management Clinic.



U of M Comprehensive Diabetes Center


The University of Michigan Comprehensive Diabetes Center is committed to preventing, treating, and curing all forms of diabetes through patient care and advanced research.

3 thoughts on “Volunteers are most important part of diabetes clinical research

  1. I notice you mention drugs,lifestyle changes or surgery but what about natural supplements?

    We have a supplement protocol where most people see a 15-20 point reduction in glucose levels. Overweight people will also lose weight.This is especially important to those “pre diabetics” in the 100-115 blood glucose range.

    People are resistant to making lifestyle changes and more and more hesitant to take drugs. I think getting them to take a few supplements is a reasonable alternative.With diabetes it is possible to “reset” the genes.

    I have found that integrative physicians using the best of alopathic and alternative medicine seem to be getting the best results.

    I do agree that obesity and diabetes are two of our biggest health problems. It is hard to believe that our obesity rate in this country is TEN TIMES higher than that of the longest lived people in the industrialized world the Japanese.

  2. avatar
    Dr. Amy Rothberg on said:

    Hi, Jim. Thanks for your comment.

    Lifestyle intervention remains the cornerstone of treatment for obesity. Unfortunately, we cannot change our genetic make-up and therefore, need to consider making changes to our environment. Certainly, meal replacements do have evidence for helping people lose weight and for those who continue to employ them as part of calorically restricted diet, helping maintain weight loss. “Supplements” have insufficient evidence and energy would continue to need to be restricted in order to lose weight. Weight loss can improve a number of health conditions including pre-diabetes and diabetes. This has been demonstrated in both the medical weight loss and metabolic/bariatric surgery literature.

    I think that most individuals would like to make lifestyle changes, but are not given sufficient tools to make and maintain these changes, particularly in an environment that is not conducive to making these changes.

    Obesity is a societal problem. Until we can make substantive changes at many levels, we will continue to face difficulties helping our patients lose and more importantly maintain their weight loss.

    Thanks again for sharing your thoughts.

  3. I agree that we are born with a certain genetic make-up but I also believe that latest research shows that genes can be altered. I agree that our diets(and yes supplements), our exposure to toxins and high levels of stress can alter the genetic makeup we were born with.
    I think a study from the University of Texas showed through a study of rats that soaring obesity and diabetes rates could be due to the chemical revolution of decades ago.This certainly makes sense to me.
    As mentioned previously we have been developing a supplement with significant clinical backup and are seeing 15-20 point drops in glucose and 1- 1 1/2 lbs of weight loss per week without any change in diet or exercise. Maybe we should do a university study on this.Something to consider next year.

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