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Grad Student’s Diabetes Research Is Personal, Professional

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DENVER (CBS4) - For one Denver diabetes patient, research and management of the disease is both a personal and academic pursuit.

Adam Burrack is a fifth-year grad student in the immunology program at the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus. He’s studying why the human body rejects insulin-producing cells that aid in treating diabetes.

He’s also been a type 1 diabetes patient since age 2.

“I’ve always written down everything I’ve eaten. I’ve always written down every blood sugar number that I do. I test my blood sugar between four and 10 times a day. That’s just part of my day. It’s life,” he says. “There’s no adaptation to it. That’s just what I have to do to feel good. Sometimes you do everything right and you still don’t feel good. That’s life with the disease.”

Adam Burrack (credit: CBS)

Adam Burrack (credit: CBS)

As diabetes patients know, it’s a disease that’s managed, not cured. Pumps treat diabetes by making insulin the body doesn’t manufacture. But research into pancreatic islet transplants, which Burrack is studying, is potentially a cure because patients wouldn’t have to inject insulin anymore. The American Diabetes Association provides funding for his research.

This year, Burrack, his wife and some of his co-workers are participating in the Tour de Cure, a series of fundraising cycling events organized by the ADA.

“It’s been a really good outlet to do more advocacy than just the research,” he says. “It kind of reminds me that there is a reason besides the insulin pump that I wear all the time. There is a larger reason to do the work that we do.”

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