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Diabetes Research

Our research brings hope.

Pioneering Progress

Founded by the visionary Dr. William Sansum in 1944, Sansum Diabetes Research Institute (SDRI) has continually been at the forefront of groundbreaking research, education, and clinical care dedicated to improving the lives of those impacted by diabetes.

SDRI’s researchers are committed to advancing the field of diabetes research, education, and clinical care to improve the lives of patients around the world. SDRI’s significant contributions to diabetes treatment are prolific.

  • Dr. Lois Jovanovic led global research that now enables women who are pregnant with diabetes to have healthy pregnancies and children. Dr. Kristin Castorino, SDRI’s Senior Research Physician, is carrying on this exceptional legacy in diabetes in pregnancy research at SDRI.
  • SDRI investigators were instrumental in the development of the artificial pancreas system, dramatically transforming diabetes management for people living with this disease.
  • SDRI continues Dr. Jovanovic’s pioneering work by focusing on addressing health disparities for underserved populations affected by diabetes through an experiential research approach.

Our scientific priority is to drive innovative diabetes research that addresses all types of diabetes (type 1 diabetes, Latent Autoimmune Diabetes of Adults, type 2 diabetes, prediabetes, and diabetes in pregnancy), women’s health issues related to diabetes in pregnancy, and health equity.

What is type 1 diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease where your body’s immune system destroys the beta cells that in the pancreas. Type 1 diabetes does have a genetic component, but its causes are not fully understood and currently there is no cure. Type 1 diabetes can affect people of all ages, both children and adults. People who live with type 1 diabetes are dependent insulin to survive.

What is type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disorder where your body still produces insulin but is unable to use it effectively. Type 2 diabetes can be managed with diet and exercise or medication, but also may require insulin therapy.

What is gestational diabetes?

Gestational diabetes develops during pregnancy in women who don’t already have diabetes. Treatment strategies include daily blood sugar monitoring, a healthy diet, exercise, and monitoring the baby. Those who develop gestational diabetes are at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

In 2021, the number of women with gestational diabetes increased by 56%, and the percentage of women with type 1 or type 2 diabetes before pregnancy increase by 37%.

How many Americans live with diabetes today?

More than 37 million Americans have diabetes (about 1 in 10), and approximately 90-95% of them have type 2 diabetes.

Approximately 1.84 million Americans have type 1 diabetes, which is expected to increase to 5 million people by 2050.

Our diabetes research focus spans a wide spectrum including:

Advanced Treatment Modalities

  • Exploring innovative diabetes management using cutting-edge medical technology and pharmacology to improve patient outcomes and quality of life.
  • SDRI is collaborating with leading insulin manufacturers to diversify insulin options, such as weekly basal insulin, rather than daily injections, for better administration methods.

Lifestyle Interventions

  • Investigating the impact of diet, exercise, stress management, and behavioral modifications on glycemic control and overall well-being among individuals with diabetes.
  • Our team conducts studies that we believe will bring meaningful improvements to the lives of people with diabetes, focusing on increasing quality of life through device accuracy-related discoveries.

Innovative Therapeutics and Technologies

  • SDRI develops innovative tools and technologies for real-time monitoring of blood glucose levels and automated insulin delivery, enabling more personalized treatment strategies tailored to individual needs. SDRI collaborated with UC Santa Barbara to develop an algorithm automated glucose control and is currently used in Insulet’s OP5 Automated Insulin Delivery System.
  • SDRI is highly respected by leading industry partners. We are often the first site contacted to launch pivotal trials. On average, SDRI collaborates with industry partners in conducting 20+ research studies annually, engaging approximately 750 subjects each year. Current industry partners include MannKind, Abbott, Dexcom, Insulet, Lilly, Medtronic Diabetes, Novo Nordisk, Tandem Diabetes, and more!
  • SDRI has partnered with all three leading insulin pump manufacturers, Medtronic, Insulet Corporation, and Tandem Diabetes Care, to research and launch their first automated insulin delivery systems (also referred to as artificial pancreas systems).
  • Our collaborators know that our full-time staff of 30+ individuals and our 70+ part-time research team are responsible and ethical, able to accelerate subject recruitment efforts, and ensure all safety measures are maximized.

SDRI’s Clinical Trials

While expanding our ongoing successful research in the Artificial Pancreas, Diabetes in Pregnancy, and groundbreaking studies of diabetes in socioeconomically disadvantaged, high-risk minorities, SDRI continues to look to the future to break new ground in diabetes research. With Dr. Samuel Klein’s leadership, SDRI’s Chief Scientific Officer, SDRI has an ambitious vision to establish new, cutting-edge research in Precision Metabolism. This research will take us beyond glucose control and create evidence-based solutions to improve metabolic health and multi-organ system function related to all forms of diabetes. 

type 1 diabetes

SDRI is on the cutting edge of research for those living with type 1 diabetes. Our focus on improving glucose control and decreasing the need for insulin remains at the forefront of our mission.


type 2 diabetes

SDRI has been a leading center for developing novel therapeutics for type 2 diabetes. We have conducted dozens of important randomized controlled clinical trials evaluating potential therapeutic interventions for type 2 diabetes. We are now pioneering new studies evaluating the effects of a novel culturally tailored behavior and diet interventions on metabolic health in the socioeconomically disadvantage Latino population with obesity and type 2 diabetes in Santa Barbara County. These and future studies will identify successful evidence-based nutritional and behavioral approaches to prevent and treat type 2 diabetes that directly addresses the health disparities in this population.


diabetes in pregnancy

SDRI and its former director, Dr. Lois Jovanovic, developed the protocols now considered standard care for pregnant women with diabetes through diet and insulin. We will expand our research program in this area to determine the optimal care for pregnant women with type 1 and type 2 diabetes and have initiated collaborations with experts at other academic institutions who will work with SDRI to develop these studies. These studies include the use of the AP in women with type 1 diabetes and continuous glucose monitoring in women with gestational and type 2 diabetes. SDRI will also explore the clinical effect and acceptance of using a virtual diabetes in pregnancy education platform developed with specific stakeholders. Diabetes and pregnancy are also a focus of our new Precision Metabolism/Nutrition initiative, which will evaluate the metabolic abnormalities, including β-cell dysfunction and insulin resistance, that increase the risk of adverse outcomes in mother and child. We recently received a grant in collaboration with Cottage Hospital’s Health Research Institute from the National Institutes of Health to study the effect of a plant-forward diet on health outcomes in pregnant women with diabetes.