In 1972 in order to fund dedicated and ongoing research on diabetes and related vascular diseases through private sources, St. Louis physician researchers, Drs. Charles Kilo and Joseph R. Williamson founded the Kilo Diabetes & Vascular Research Foundation.
Because they believed that normalization of blood sugar could delay or prevent the many vascular and neurological complications of diabetes, Drs. Kilo and Williamson and their research team challenged and successfully refuted a major government study of diabetes treatment (the University Group Diabetes Program). The government study now stands widely discredited, and the American Diabetes Association withdrew their support for the study¡¯s findings. Aggressively treating people with diabetes to bring blood sugar levels within normal ranges is now the accepted treatment throughout the world.
Drs. Kilo and Williamson refuted evidence that diabetic complications are mainly the result of genetics. They showed that diabetic complications are related to the duration of diabetes and the degree of blood sugar control.
The overall research objective is to understand how diabetes affects the body and to develop medications and interventions to prevent vascular damage and diabetes-induced complications of blindness, heart attacks, strokes, nerve damage and kidney failure. This research has important implications for non-diabetics as well since we have discovered great similarities between the vascular damage caused by diabetes and damage to arteries and blood vessels that leads to heart attacks and strokes in non-diabetics.
The goals of the Foundation are focused on finding a cure for diabetes and on educating the medical professionals who treat the disease.
Finding a Cure
For the past 37 years the Foundation has provided continuous funding to the Kilo Laboratory at Washington University's School of Medicine. Work in this lab has been focused on finding a cure for Type 1 diabetes and also studying the impact of diabetes on the vascular system. Additionally, in 2004, with the Board's commitment to the search for a cure for Type 2 diabetes, the Foundation engaged in the establishment of the Charles Kilo Chair for Type 2 Diabetes and Nutrition with funding directed to the Center for Human Nutrition at Washington University. In both laboratories, work is under way to not only find a cure for the respective diseases but also to ensure that we're researching the best possible patient care and treatment available.
Educationally, the Foundation has also provided continuous funding and support for the Kilo Diabetes Symposium that has been held for the past 37 years. This two day seminar which is directed toward medical professionals hosts between 400 and 500 doctors, nurses, educators and dieticians. The presenting faculty come from various institutions across the country specializing in research and the treatment of diabetes and other vascular diseases. The attendees are presented with the latest in research and clinical application of the newest treatment and therapy.
Beyond the Symposium, the Foundation also extends its' educational outreach programs and Diabetes Screening Services to the local community through multiple venues including the St. Louis Area Agency on Aging, Mid-East Area Agency on Aging, the Parish Nurse Association, local community service organizations and Senior subsidized housing groups. The Foundation firmly believes in the need to manage this disease and through these programs we are able to reach our community's highest risk residents.
The Foundation has been blessed over the years through the generosity of many who share this dream of a cure for diabetes. Individual donations, memorials, lifetime gifts through wills and other extraordinary giving channels, private foundations and grants have provided the core funding for our work.
The Foundation is supported through various fund raising events that are held throughout the year. These events are intended to not only bring some joy into the lives of those participating but also to educate more people about diabetes and to help spread our reach to a broader base within the community.
Washington University has established two laboratories in conjunction with the Kilo Diabetes & Vascular Research Foundation. Dr. Emil Unanue coordinates the activities of the various laboratories. The focus is on the immunology of diabetes.
In December 2003, the Kilo Laboratory was the first in the world to provide evidence of a cure for Type 1 diabetes in mice. This information can lead to understanding and preventing Type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune diseases in humans.